Carla Fernández: The Future is Handmade
La Galerie du 19M in Paris presents Carla Fernández: The Future is Handmade, an immersive exhibition into the world of this singular artist and fashion designer that highlights her collaborations with Mexican artisans, whose art and savoir-faire she celebrates across her practice.
Carla Fernández is a fashion designer, artist and activist whose work is deeply engaged with Mexican artisans and craftspeople, and fuses textiles, craft and visual art. Based in Mexico City, her brand, Casa da Moda, founded in collaboration with Cristina Rangel, is about experimentation and storytelling, with each piece of clothing or accessory reflecting not only the artisans involved in its making but also social issues, traditions and the history of materials, among other things. Fernández had an early love of Mexican costumes and textile traditions. She studied art history as well as fashion design and brings elements of each into every collection. For over twenty years, she has linked fashion with action, creating a manifesto with each collection that talks about various issues from manufacturing to the value of a piece of clothing to history and heritage.
She writes, “We have worked in creative and productive collaboration with more than 180 artisans in 13 states of the Mexican Republic. Generally, it is the artisans who ask us to make new designs using their traditional techniques. It is a mirror relationship, where we unite and develop new products, always respecting the artisanal and cultural processes of the community, giving credit to each participant, the region and the technique. We are the first fashion house to have B Corp certification in Latin America”.
Carla Fernández: The Future is Handmade was curated by Florence Müller and was originally presented in Denver, Colorado and in Mexico City. La Galerie du 19M is an ideal host for this third iteration of the exhibition, expanding on the two previous shows to include specially designed pieces made in collaboration between the designer, her partner craftsmen in Mexico, and four residents Maisons of le19M – Goossens, Massaro, Maison Michel, and ERES – bringing together traditional and contemporary savoir-faire and techniques and the experience of an object with creative abstraction.
The exhibition features a sort of itinerary of ideas and themes including: Manifesto, in which she writes, “Return to the origin, to be original,” as part of a manifesto and mission around reinventing and reusing traditional skills and knowledge for the contemporary world; Fiestas, puts on display her collection Sabado (2022) and the Mexican tradition of masks and accessories in festivities. Alongside the masks made by Leonardo Linares, the grandson of the artist and cartonería master Pedro Linares (1906–1992), this sequence presents three pairs of glasses designed by Carla Fernández and the goldsmith Goossens. Charro is inspired by the Mexican equestrian tradition in the cattle-breeding communities and features leather patterns that reference the dress associated with this charriás as well as reinterpretations of horse riders’ hats made in collaboration with Maison Michel of Maisons of le19m; Tierra highlights the connections between textiles and the land, and all the stages of production from raw material to natural dyeing to the artisans who transform it and their ancestral traditions; Protesta represents Fernández’s support of women and indigenous rights through performance, traditional costumes, printed materials and signage; Geometría brings together Carla Fernández Casa de Moda’s way of constructing garments according to geometric principles connected to weaving and amate paper work from the artisans of San Pablito Pahuatlán in the Puebla region; finally Pratica will feature films and photographs and also be a space for group workshops led by craftspeople including Felipe Horta, Arisbeth González and Obdulia Almazán.
With regards to the exhibition Fernández states, “What I want you to remember is… That fashion is not ephemeral and tradition is not static. That there are countless systems within fashion and that the future is handmade”.
Carla Fernández: The Future is Handmade is on view at La Galerie du 19M through December 17, 2023.