The Mexican Women Leading The Charge In Design
Over the past two decades, Mexico City has experienced an artistic revolution, showcasing a bold fusion of tradition and innovation. This has been attributed to an increasingly liberal society, with a growing focus on gender equality, which has fostered a vibrant, creative ecosystem where women play a pivotal role.
From architects Tatiana Bilbao and Frida Escobedo to fashion designer Carla Fernández and jewellery designer Sofia Elias, visionary women are challenging conventions and introducing groundbreaking concepts across the Mexican design scene. Here are three more names to know…
Andrea, Magdalena and Paula de la Torre Suárez founded their accessories brand almost by mistake. In 2017, Andrea was the coordinator for the FEMSA artistic residence programme in Casa Luis Barragán, where she met artisan woodworker Daniel Díaz. He agreed, as a personal favour, to help her create a wooden handbag inspired by her childhood. Her sisters Paula and Magdalena jumped in, injecting their own vision and originality, and Aurelia Parrondo was born.
The brand’s belts and bags are made using techniques from charrería (a Mexican equestrian tradition), which involve spinning an ixtle rope in fluid movements. The signature Ladrillo bag, made from recycled and reforested woods, can be worn with interchangeable straps handcrafted by artisans, making each piece unique.
The idea for the bag stemmed from a childhood toy. “As funny as it sounds, my Polly Pocket collection was my inspiration,” says Andrea. “I had an obsession with little boxes and the idea of having one that contained not only your personal items, but your whole world.”
Designer Perla Valtierra always remembers aesthetics being present in her life, thanks to her father being a photographer and her mother working in a cultural office. After studying industrial design in Mexico City, Valtierra spent a semester learning about sustainability in Montreal, the impact of which can be seen in her creative process today. “Not producing ephemeral pieces is key to my brand’s legacy,” she explains.
“Ceramics gain their worth through the artistry that allows for new forms, but above all, by the way life is experienced through them,” she says. Think vases that hold fresh flowers or mugs you serve your coffee in – that is the beauty of Valtierra’s creations.
She thrives on collaborative creativity and has worked alongside traditional ceramicist Don Jesús for seven years. “All the pieces made in the potter’s wheel are a co-interpretation that mixes my ideas and design with his savoir-faire,” Valtierra shares. She has also designed a six-piece glass collection for Nouvel, made using an ancient Egyptian sand-casting technique. “This allows for different textures in the glass, so even though it is a serial process, all of the final pieces are unique,” she says.
When Lorena Saravia launched her eponymous fashion brand in 2010, she knew it meant a lifetime commitment. Though it has already gone through several reinventions, Saravia honours one important trademark: “Knowing who you are, where you came from, where you are and where are you going.”
She credits her determination to the women in her family – their quilting sessions accompanied by the musical sound of the sewing machine. She is also inspired by Mexican revolutionary figures such as Emiliano Zapata: “His boots and leather chaps inspired my last collection. And the Saravia cowboy boots [launched in 2018] continue to be my most successful design.”
Her family’s 100-year-old photo collection also feeds into the powerful pieces she designs for her clientele, known as the ‘Saravia Girls’. “I want the Saravia Girls to have statement pieces that can be part of their day-to-day; the leather jacket you’ll put on three times per week and feel like you can rule the world.”