My grandmother, Silivia, created Silvania Prints in 1958 after falling in love with the ancient artwork left behind by long-gone artists that surfaced in modern Peru as 'artifacts'. Taking inspiration from textiles, ceramics, and the Nazca Lines, she sketched her own version of motifs from relics she found in museums and on expeditions throughout Peru. Her fabrics brought new life to the ancient deities and designs she found, bringing them into the modern world as clothing, curtains, pillows, and purses. I can't believe my luck in having a catalog of her designs; not only can I keep her memory alive by using her fabrics in my clothing designs, but the legacy of precolonial Peruvian artists spanning two millenia!
When I dreamt up my Silvania revival a few years ago, it occured to me that apart from breathing new life into Peru's ancient art, Silvania ought to do its part to share the living traditional textile arts of Peru with the world. Partnering with textile artisans has offered me a unique opportunity to help keep traditional crafts alive while supporting indigenous communities. I recently made this video to show you the origin of the embroidery you find in Silvania garments, below. My guide was seven-year-old Jennifer along with her mother, Casilda Isabel, and father, Florencio. Casilda not only embroiders Silvania garments but recruits sisters and cousins to embroider garments and manages shipments of embroidered fabric to Lima. She is teaching her daughter Jennifer to embroider 'kené', as this style is called, and hopes her daughter will go to college and become a 'professional woman' one day. Find more photos of Jennifer, Casilda, and Florencio on our trip to Callería (six hours by boat!) on the Silvania Tumblr.
Left: the Isabel Dress is named after my star embroiderer, Casilda Isabel. The wrap-around belts were hand-embroidered by Casilda, her sisters, and mother.
Right: the Naymlap T-shirt depicts the god Naymlap, who rose from the sea and sailed to land on a raft according to Moche legend. Gold sequins were machine embroidered and filled in with kené hand-embroidery. If you look closely in Naymlaps crown you will find the initials of the woman who embroidered your shirt!