My Version of Valdiosera's Aguascalientes Design

Folklórico Meets Fashion Design (Part 2)

I remember as a young folklorista feeling a bit perplexed at times. I mistakenly thought that all the costumes, music, and dance traditions came from a community of people. It was until I entered graduate school that I began to see the folklórico world in a different light. Here, I dug deep into research on Mexican cultural nationalism of the 1920s and the ways it influenced which dances were selected to represent the country of Mexico. Now, as I read through my texts I keep seeing the name Ramón Valdiosera, a fashion designer, appear alongside the creation of many folklórico costumes which are near to my heart. Some of his folklórico designs such as Veracruz Huasteca and Aguascalientes have become synonymous with the region/state of Mexico even though they were created for the stage. Wanting to learn more, I decided to write two blogs on this topic. This is my second blog post. Here, I write of Valdiosera’s costume designs to represent the states of Aguascalientes, Tabasco, and Quintana Roo.

Aguascalientes

Aguascalientes

The people living in Aguascalientes perform many traditional dances such as the matlachines, a version of the Danza de la Pluma, Danza de Conquista, Danza de los Indios and Danza de Chicahuales (both are similar to the Moors and Christians dance). Yet, Maestro José Luis Sustaita Luevano, writes that Aguacalientes did not have an official costume to represent the state until the 1970s when Validosera designed his creation. Valdiosera designed this costume based upon the dress called the Ranchera del Centro. Valdiosera created a white dress with a blouse having a high collar with puffed sleeves. The bodice has lace with a ruffle of the same fabric. The white skirt has a colorful petticoat of pastel or brilliant colors. Valdiosera designed the skirt to have motifs that represent Aguascalientes. The motifs worn today include: carnations, roses, grapes on a vine, balustrade of the garden of San Marcos, roosters, peach blossom, and the guayaba. The reason that folklórico groups often include grapes in their design is due to the fact that at one time the cultivation of grapes had an important economic impact in Aguascalientes.  Nowadays, the growing of peach and guayabas are commonplace (Sustaita Luevano 8-9).

Traje de Gala de Tabasco

As Maestra Rosa del Carmen Dehesa remembers one day a few friends of Carlos Madrazo Becerra, Governor of Tabasco, told him that they felt that the regional costume was very humble and simple. They asked Madrazo to designate a dress representing Tabasco that was more stylish. Becerra had the idea to create a gala dress that incorporated the indigenous dress design elements of the women from Tabasco. Thus, he asked fashion designer Validosera to create an official dress of Tabasco. Valdiosera traveled for three months with Roberto Campos to the different communities of Tabasco.  When he arrived in Tapijulapa which is a community in Tacotalpa, Tabasco, he loved the beautiful color blue worn there. Valdiosera based his dress design on the people of the community of Tamulté de las Sabanas and decided to utilize the blue of Tacotalpa.   

Valdiosera’s design utilizes the traditional embroidered blouse and rebozo worn by the women of Tabasco. However, he designed the A-lined skirt to represent the state. The skirt is a dark blue color and has a thick waistband adorned with the tira bordada of Tabasco. The tira bordada is a strip of colorful embroidered flowers. Along the bottom of the skirt, are four strips of tira bordada with a ribbon sewn underneath each one. The color of the ribbons are the same colors used in the tira bordada. which are blue (representing rivers), green (representing mountains), yellow (representing Chontalpa), and red (representing the central region). Each ribbon on the dress represents a region of Tabasco  (Información y fotos proporcionadas, García n.p., Zetina n.p.).

Valdiosera's Tabasco Design
Valdiosera’s Tabasco Design
Valdiosera and his Tabasco Design
Valdiosera and his Tabasco Design

Chetumal Traje de Quintana Roo

In 1959 Carmen Ochoa de Merino who was the wife of Quintana Roo’s Governor Aarón Merino phoned Valdiosera and commissioned him to design a dress to represent the state of Quintana Roo. According to Flor de Azalea Hadad Salgado, Director of the Artistic Laboratory “Chactemal” of the College of Arts and Culture A.C., this was important because Quintana Roo did not have an official dress to represent the state (Hadad Salgado n.p.)  Valdiosera traveled to this area and was inspired by a Mayan statue of an indigenous women located in the island of Jaina, Campeche. La Chetumaleña is depicted on this sculpture wearing the traditional dress of Chetumal which was worn in the peninsula.  Valdiosera used the pre-hispanic elements of the area in his design. He used a sort of brown linen or yute color for a tunic that reaches below the knees. The tunic is open on the sides without sleeves with a cape worn over the shoulders. Geometric shapes, adorn the shoulders and bottom of the cape as well as, the hem. These motifs can either be painted or embroidered. These motifs were chosen to symbolize fertility (Hadad Salgado, n.p., Verdayes Ortiz n.p., The Chetumaleña Monument). In 1981 this costume became famous when the beauty pageant contestant of Quintana Roo wore a version of this design in the Miss Mexico contest. She won first prize for traditional clothing (The Chetumaleña Monument).

Quintana Roo

Most importantly, in 1959 the same year that Valdiosera premiered his design, Maestro Rubén Dario composed music and lyrics to a song entitled Danza de la Chetumaleña Prehispánica. Also, Isabel “Bellita” Ferreyro Villamil who taught ballet and folklórico alongside Professor Omar Erosa who was a physical education teacher created the choreography to accompany the music and official dress. This dance was presented in December of 1959 in the Manuel Ávila Camacho Theater (Hadad Salgado n.p.).

My Thoughts

Do you notice that all three of the dress designs mentioned above were commissioned by government officials? I have so many questions to ask. For example, why is an official government sanctioned dress needed? Who gets left out when an official dress is chosen and why? What are the politics behind these types of decisions? Also, some of Valdiosera’s folklórico designs are beloved by the people and came to represent the state/regions (Veracruz Huasteca & Aguascalientes) while other designs are not as commonly utilized. What is the reason behind this? Regardless, I can’t help but admire the designs of Valdiosera.

Written by Gabriela Mendoza-Garcia Ph.D.

Works Cited

“The Chetumaleña Monument,” Tu Chetumal. http://tuchetumal.com/en/chetumal-en/interesting-sites/monuments/the-chetumalena-monument/ (accessed February 25, 2021).

García, Manuel Javier. “En homenaje a Valdiosera: Creador del Traje Estilizado Tabasqueño.” Panorama Global de Noticias en Centla. https://www.facebook.com/groups/128426950889172/permalink/389621924769672/

(accessed February 25, 2021).

Hadad Salgado, Flor de Azalea. “El Traje Representative de Quinana Roo Prehispánico Inspirado en una Figurilla Maya del Preclásico.”  Quintana Roo, México.  https://quintanaroo.webnode.es/news/el-traje-representativo-de-quintana-roo-prehispanico-inspirado-en-una-fugurilla-maya-del-preclasico-por-flor-de-azalia-hadad-salgado-/ (accessed February 25, 2021).

“Información y fotos proporcionadas por la maestra Rosa del Carmen Dehesa,” De Tabasco Soy. https://detabascosoy.com/sitio/detabascosoy.com/traje-tipico/index.html (accessed February 25, 2021).

Sustaita Luevano, José Luis. “Monografia del Estado de Aguascalientes.” 25. Congreso Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos en Aguascalientes, México del 4 al 11 de Julio de 1998. Aguascalientes: Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos, 1998.

Verdayes Ortiz, Francisco. “Chetumaleña con Reminiscencia Prehispánica.”  Turquesa News. https://turquesanews.mx/radar-peninsular/trajes-tipicos-identidad-casi-desconocida/ (accessed February 25, 2021).

Zetina, Eleyda. “El Origin de la Tira Bordada Tabasqueña.” Hey México. https://heymexico.mx/blogs/cultura/el-origen-de-la-tira-bordada (accessed February 25, 2021).

Further Reading

For additional readings please see the book Dancing Throughout Mexican History (1325-1910) written by Sanjuanita Martínez-Hunter and edited by myself. Now available for purchase on Amazon. See the link below. https://www.amazon.com/author/gabrielamendozagarcia

Posing for the Camera as I Read a Book


Folklórico Meets Fashion Design (Part 1)

Many years ago when I was first began teaching folklórico, I mistakenly thought that all the costumes we danced with were once used by a community of people. I had no idea that many of our beloved costumes were created specifically for the stage by maestra/os. Even a fashion designer named Ramón Valdiosera Berman created a few. Valdiosera designed costumes to represent Veracruz Huasteco, Aguascalientes, Tabasco, Nuevo Leon, and Quintana Roo. In this writing, I will tell a little bit about his designs and his choice of symbols for the costumes of Veracruz Huasteco and Nuevo Leon. In my up-coming writing, I will detail his costume designs representing Tabasco, Aguascalientes and Quintana Roo.

Ramón Valdiosera Berman (1918-2017) was a fashion designer, artist, historian, cartoonist, illustrator, and collector. His most famous contributions are in the field of fashion design. His designs were inspired by the colors, sights, and sounds of Mexico. He is the first Mexican to have his fashion collection premier in New York City in 1949. He also presented his fashion collections in Chicago, Puerto Rico and Canada. He designed costumes for many Mexican movies (“Ramon Valdiosera Berman: Ejemplo de Amor por México” n.p.). However, it is his designs for Mexican folklórico dances that piques my interest. 

Please see video clip below.

Design of Veracruz, Huasteco

According to Rodolfo Carrillo Vazquez, Don Raúl Pazzi headed a committee in which the members asked Ramón Valdiosera to design a dress to represent Veracruz Huasteco. This costume was presented in the first Feria y Exposición Regional de Pánuco in 1961. The costume that he designed incorporated images of the four Huastecas. Here, he decided to include an apron, fan, and necklace to represent the jarocha from Veracruz.  The quechquémetl (indigenous blouse) and the many colores of the petob (headdress) worn on the head of the woman represent San Luis Potosi. Valdiosera decided that the fringe alongside the quechquémetl would represent the cuera Tamualipeca. Finally, the apron and quechquémetl are both adorned with an embroidered flower (retama) representing Hidalgo. The men utilize a dress shirt that is called a guayabera that is typically found in the Huasteca region. It has four pleats which symbolize the union of the four Huastecas. He wears a red bandanna and a hat of the area. Valdiosera chose to costume the men wearing white pants and a white guayabera to give the outfit an elegant look, as well as to symbolize the purity of spirit of the people of Veracruz (Carillo Vasquez 54-55).

The following are photographs of Don Raúl Pazzi and Dr. Patricia del C. Florencia Pulido along with a few other dance partners as they perform using the costume designed by Valdiosera. (All photos are taken from the internet.)

Designing a Costume Representing Nuevo León Central

Nuevo León has many costumes to represent its people. Yet, the costume designed by Valdiosera is very distinctive. Raúl Rangel Frías who was the governor of Nuevo León from 1955 to 1961 alongside the Cervecería Cuahtémoc organization insisted that Valdiosera create a costume to represent the state of Nuevo León.   It was presented during the celebration of the “fiestas de la cerveza” in 1956.  The committee of this fiesta was headed Raúl Rangel Frías (59).

Valdiosera designed a short, puffed sleeve blouse for the women. He took inspiration from the blouse worn by the peasant women which had a rounded neckline. Valdiosera designed a flowered band that adorns the edges of the sleeves and the neckline.  The shimmery, silk skirt has a gold colored waistband that ties with a bow in back. The upper portion of the skirt has a gold fabric sewn upon it. The gold colors of the fabric represent the arid soil. The rest of the skirt is white in color and has gold, green, and blue zig zagged ribbons in rows.  The hem of the white fabric skirt is jagged. Valdiosera designed this hem to form an “m” which is a symbolic representation of the mountains of Nuevo León called the Cerro de la Silla, as well as the Western Sierra Madre. Then, Valdiosera designed a layer of deep, blue silk fabric with a straight hem. The woman wears a fan and her hair is pulled back in braids with flowers and a cachiril de carey upon her head completes the look.

Valdiosera decided that the men would wear khaki pants alongside a cowboy shirt of a similar design to what is worn in that region. He designed the shirt to be made of cotton but with blue panels on the shoulders and a portion of the back. A strip of blue fabric is sewn alongside the front of the shirt where the buttons are located. Gold trim adorns the blue fabric. Valdiosera designed cowboy details long both sides of the shoulders. The men wear a bandana and a cowboy hat.

This costume was used by dance groups for the first time at the Confrontación de Danza Folklórica de los Centros de Seguridad y Bienestar Social del IMSS and at the national level in Mexico in the Teatro Tepeyac in June 1970. Afterwards, the Ballet Folklorico Magesterial de la Sección 21 del S.N.T.E. utilized this costume during a performance representing Nuevo León at the 8th annual Juegos Nacionales y Juegos Culturales del Magisterio celebrating the city of Victoria, Tamualipas in October of 1981. From then on, many folklórico groups have utilized this costume in to represent Nuevo León, Central (Guerrero Hernández 59-60).

Valdiosera's Nuevo Leon Costume

My Thoughts

It truly amazes me the ways in which folklórico dance, costume, and music are in a state of continuous re-invention and creation. Don Raúl Pazzi was instrumental in formulating a new way of dancing the huapangos from Veracruz. He wanted a representative costume to accompany his choreography. Furthermore, the governor of Nuevo León wanted a distinct costume to represent his state at the “fiestas de la cerveza.” They both asked Valdiosera for his input and help in creating a costume to represent their state. These costumes were not worn by a community of people but overtime have come to represent them.

Written by: Gabriela Mendoza-Garcia Ph.D.

Works Cited

Carillo Vasquez, Rodolfo. “Veracruz Huasteco.”  28. Congreso Asociación  Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos en Veracruz, Veracruz, México del 30 de junio al 7 de julio de 2001. Veracruz: Asociación  Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos, 2001.

Guerrero Hernández, Jaime. ed. 2003. “Indumentarias de Nuevo León.” In Nuevo León: Textos del Folklore. Monterrey: Asociación Nacional de Maestros de Danza Popular Mexicana A.C.

“Ramón Valdiosera Berman.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqbbF8NC_9k

“Ramón Valdiosera Berman: Ejemplo de Amor por México.” Movimiento Cuidadano. Accessed on January 21, 2021. https://movimientociudadano.mx/federal/boletines/ramon-valdiosera-berman-ejemplo-de-amor-por-mexico

Further Reading

Dancing Throughout Mexican History (132-1910)

To learn more about Mexican dance history, please purchase the book Dancing Throughout Mexican History (1325-1910) written by Sanjuanita Martínez-Hunter and edited by myself. It is available for purchase at Amazon.com. Please see the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/author/gabrielamendozagarcia