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