Monthly Archives: June 2013

From Mexico With Love: Symbolic Inspiration

June 30, 2013


Textiles SymbolsThe symbols in Mayan clothing and textiles is much more than distinctive decoration.  The patterns tell a story based on the type of garment being made, what the cloth is eventually used for and the influences that the individual weavers bring to their looms.

The traditional brocade designs of the Chiapas Maya are drawn from local history and mythology. Diamond designs refer to the shape of the earth and sky. Undulating designs, often called snake or flower, symbolize the fertile earth with its abundance of holy plants and animals.  Each village, inspired by local custom and tradition, creates garments that are a direct reflection of their daily life and beliefs and each designer puts her individual signature on the pieces made.  The result is a unified expression of their heritage that is a symbolic representation of each community



This cross-stitched dress from the village of Chalchihuitan is a perfect example of the geometric designs used to depict the earth, sky, and various gods and goddesses from ancient times.  The designs are timeless and this dress fits right in to today’s ethnic fashion trend. Big gold hoop earrings, some strappy sandals and you’re all set for summer.

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Textiles inspired by brocade fabrics brought over by the Spanish are the inspiration behind these beautiful shawls.  The flowers are symbolic of the Earth’s fertile abundance, while the contemporary colors are a reflection of a younger generations influence.  This piece that we brought back from Zinacantan would work perfectly with jeans, black tank top and some great high shoes or boots. They are quite stunning to see up close.

Shawl from Zinacantan


The village of Tenejapa was where we found these black woolen shawls.  Women throughout the village wore one, each slightly different as a result of one’s embroidery and pom-pom design.  Woven from wool,  the texture is almost like a fur and keeps them warm in the winter months, similar to a blanket. It created a striking visual when they were gathered together in the market.  They are perfect for layering over a jean jacket in the fall to add something special to an outfit.

Woolen Shawl from Tenejapa


These delicate shawls from the village of Huixtan show the intricate needlecraft of the women from this region.  You can see the incredible skill of their handwork in the close-up.  They’ve created these lightweight pieces in absolutely joyful colors that are perfect for cool summer evenings.

Embroidered shawls from Huixtan


Our cross-stitch tops from Chiapas are filled with a riot of color.  The patterns in these tops can be just geometric, just floral or a combination of both.  We love them with a pair of jeans. Check out all our styles at FTWWL

Maya Huipil from Chiapas


These tops, from San Andres Larrainzar, are said to have their origins from missionary nuns coming to Mexico and teaching the women embroidery styles popular in Europe at the time.  Also done in a cross-stitch pattern, you can see the designs are much more fluid and romantic. Again illustrating the unique influences of each village.

Village of San Andres Larrainzar


Expertly crafted by the women of Chamula, these traditional satin blouses can take up to two months to complete.  The intricate handwork is evident in the bodice, telling the tale of the woman who made it and the particular village it came from. In these small communities, it’s important to continue the embroidery tradition, yet equally important to allow for each woman’s creative spirit to thrive. They’re absolutely beautiful…easy to wear day or evening.

Traditional Satin Top from Chamula


Finally, these wonderful white dresses embroidered in vibrant colors are typical to the village of San Juan Cancuc and traditionally worn by men, yet, when I found them I felt they would be perfect as a summer dress or cover-up.   We think they’d look great paired with sandals for an effortless and unique look.

Traditional Dresses from San Juan Cancuc


You can find all these new items and much more on our site From The World With Love: Mexico.

Mexico is just the beginning of the adventure.  You can shop India, Ethiopia, Thailand and Paris too!

Women Helping Women: Close To Home and From Afar

June 13, 2013




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The beauty of the Mayan textiles that we discovered in our trip to southern Mexico goes much deeper than the eye can see. Which is usually the case when an ancient civilization’s art, cultural, social and religious beliefs are translated visually.   Combining these elements have led to the patterns, colors, and styles of the textiles woven still used today.  Most important, however, is the individual passion that each woman/weaver brings to the loom when she sets to work.  Her relationship to the beautiful natural surroundings, the warmth and love within the community that has shaped her and her religious convictions are the subtle nuances that make each garment, each textile, unique.

Image-7The universe was unpredictable and misunderstood by the ancients which required them to give meaning and description to natural events taking place around them.  In the Mayan culture, textiles were equivalent to the written word.  A picture book if you will.  The scribes, those individuals making sure the story was being told and passed down were the women in the villages who were believed to have been chosen by the gods to carry out this sacred task.  Being responsible for keeping their stories alive and passing them down,  these women were afforded goddess-like status among their people.


Women not only work together, but support one another on a much deeper level.  Weaving and dealing with the tasks of everyday life were one continuous motion.  In addition to the weaving, meals had to be made, children had to be tended to and farm chores carried out, creating a fluid symphony amongst the women, played from sunrise to sunset.



We saw many women sitting and sewing new designs as we shopped, and all were more than happy to explain some of the more mythical and fanciful scenes on the textiles.  Most had  learned their skills from their mother or grandmother.  And while some of the more traditional styles have been updated, not much has changed and the tradition remains to pass along the skills from generation to generation.




The  MAYAN women region of CHIAPAS are granted a status far different from what exists in the western world.  Their culture is much more matriarchal.  Women are the backbone of this society and as such, treated with a great deal of respect from the men within the community.  It is the women who hold the future of their lives and economy in their hands.

To that end, From The World With Love has made it their mission to bring these pieces of clothing to a world that can help establish and sustain these women in cultivating a cottage industry to enhance their lives. Visit our website to see all the beautiful pieces of clothing, jewelry and home items we brought back from Mexico and help this wonderful community flourish!

More to come….


The Power of Women Around the World: Mexico

June 5, 2013

The Artists and I WIth Their Handwork

Over the past few months, From The World With Love has been on the road, this time to Mexico.

A good friend of mine, Linda, who I met years ago through our work in the fashion industry, was heading there.  We both share a passion for photography and discovering parts of the world that are new , challenging and educational. Today, Linda is an attorney, working with indigent women in Saint Christobal , working to empower them and educate them in ways they can support themselves. She knew about my work with FTWWL and felt the philosophy of what we do fit perfectly with the part of the world she was living.  Making my way through the southern most region of Mexico was a wonderful, eye-opening experience.  One that I want to share with you.

This part of the world is filled with symbolic color

Mexico is a country riddled with opposites.  Rich color, pattern, texture, and flavor combines daily with some of the world’s most profound poverty.  Yet the people are warm, welcoming, curious and  filled with a zest for life and respect for tradition that is lacking in economies having far more to offer its people.  Their passion and history were evident wherever we went and the people were eager to share their heritage and made us feel completely welcome.

The specific region we toured, Chiapas, is a mountainous region in the southernmost state of Mexico. Dotted with Mayan ruins, lush jungles teeming with life and rock formations exposed and weathered by sun and sky, the physical landscape is magical.  It is responsible for the cultural beliefs, traditions and artwork found in communities that have changed little over the centuries.  The natural beauty of the land, the gifts that Mother Nature has provided its inhabitants and the know-how and creativity of the village residents in harnessing those gifts was revealed to us over and over again in the local artwork. The designs, geometric and organic, woven or embroidered into their fabric are stories in and of themselves.  Their work is influenced by spiritual beliefs, as well as by the beauty in nature that surrounds them.

Try to imagine,  if you can,  the work (not to mention the heart and soul) that goes into these textiles.

There is no fabric shop for these women to source their supplies from. Weavers sit at looms, made with found materials and work threads that have come from the wool of sheep grazing in the low regions.  These threads  start out as white or brown and are rough in texture.  The  yarn is dyed using only the colors provided through indigenous plants, flowers and shrubs.  Jewel tone colors emerge, representative of a particular village or region.  All organic, supplied by nature.  It’s hard to imagine for those of us living in a more abundant universe and can easily shop for our needs, how difficult, remarkable and intuitive this process really is.

This group of textile artisans is strictly female.  There is a bond between them, an unspoken understanding that they need to take care of one another.  Many are related – grandmothers, mothers, daughters – learning from each other and continuing a long-standing tradition.  Historically, these women were held in incredibly high esteem as they were the teller of the tales,  … literally passing down history in their “images” and designs woven into their fabric.  Centuries old beliefs, rituals and symbols are the influence behind a particular region’s type of clothing and the cloth used. We know their story today because of their ancestors who came before, passing down their skills.  Their status within the community was just shy of goddess-like.

Both Linda and I were uplifted by these female artistic communities and saw an important message to take from this area of the world.  The women here and in other under-developed regions of the world, were and continue to be the keepers, providers and authors of a culture while also being caregivers, wives and mothers. No easy task.  Sadly, a matriarchal society and economy that is losing ground.  The industrial revolution (that devil!) has made this particular type of craft easy to reproduce, watering down both the art and local economies. While struggling to keep this craft alive, these women and their families are living in poverty.  Yet their spirit and delight in the everyday is plentiful.

Our goal here at FTWWL is straightforward:  to empower women in communities around the world by assisting them in ways to continue their craft  and sustain themselves economically.  We’ve brought back with us pieces of clothing and jewelry that are inspiring, beautiful and easy to combine with pieces you already own.  A woman with great style in our books is someone confident in herself  and her ability to take a favorite pair of jeans, some strappy sandals, a great bag and a colorful top from a region in perhaps southern MexicoEthiopia or India and carry it off in her own special way.

The whole time doing great things and contributing to the world with love!

Stay tuned for more of the story to unfold.