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The history of Mexican pink, the most representative color of Mexico

Mexican culture is known for its vibrant and lively colors. From the striking Mexican pink, symbolizing passion and tradition, to the vibrant hues of turquoise, red, yellow, and green, these colors are deeply woven into the fabric of Mexican life.

They can be seen adorning traditional textiles, handicrafts, pottery, and even the colorful facades of buildings. Each shade holds special significance, often representing elements of nature, ancient beliefs, or cultural symbolism.

The Mayans and Aztecs painted their pyramids and ornaments in a colorful way.

Mexican pink color

The intense pink color, with tones ranging from fuchsia to intense pink, is now referred to as “Mexican pink”. This vibrant hue holds a significant place in Mexico’s architecture, art, design, and fashion, contributing to the country’s unique identity.

It is challenging to encapsulate the polychromatic essence of Mexico with just one color. Some associate the country with the green of its flag, symbolizing its lush jungles and forests, representing the remarkable biodiversity.

Others might envision a striking red, reminiscent of the shade obtained from the grana cochineal, a parasite found in the nopal cactus, which served as a pigment during the Mexica and Mayan empires and continues to be used today.

Mexican pink is a color with a long tradition

Telling the story of Mexican pink takes us back to the ancient traditions and tools of the original peoples when the color was used to dye outfits, create murals, and craft ritualistic or decorative objects, all achieved through the use of natural pigments.

One notable pigment was the grana cochineal, a parasite found in the nopales, which the Aztecs referred to as “nocheztli” or “prickly pear blood.” This insect, when dried, was crushed to extract a crimson-red color, serving as a natural dye.

By combining this color with acids, various shades of red were obtained, whereas combining it with alkalis produced purple hues.

The red produced by the grana cochineal, along with the chromatic varieties it offered, became an essential part of the textile tradition, dominating the color palette and becoming one of the most coveted tones for both native peoples and the Spaniards.

A quest to find the color of Mexico

The history of Mexican pink, besides being a legacy of the textile art used by native peoples to create their outfits, is closely intertwined with the life and work of Ramón Valdiosera – an artist, cartoonist, writer, filmmaker, and fashion designer.

Ramón Valdiosera was born in 1918 in the municipality of Ozuluama, in the state of Veracruz.

Throughout his life, he remained deeply connected to his artistic training. Over 80 years of work, he not only created iconic comics in Mexico but also embarked on extensive journeys to investigate the clothing and textile art of various native communities.

During his travels, Valdiosera immersed himself in the colors, aesthetics, forms, and motifs that each community embraced for their clothing, inspiring him to conceptualize a project in 1946 – a Mexican fashion brand that would recapture the most distinctive aspects of the textile art he encountered on his explorations.

In 1949, during a presentation of his fashion collection at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, an interviewer inquired about the prominent use of bougainvillea as a central color on his catwalk.

In response, the designer explained that his choice of this specific shade of pink was influenced by its widespread presence in Mexican culture, textile traditions, and the characteristic urban settings of Mexico.

Ramón Valdiosera highlighted how this bougainvillea tone could be found in handmade toys, traditional costumes of various native peoples, sweets, decorations, and homes.

The interviewer then coined the phrase that continues to define this hue today: “So it is a Mexican pink.”

Influence on Mexican Culture

More than 70 years after the moment that bestowed its name upon Mexican pink, as we know it today, the color Ramón Valdiosera chose to showcase the essence of Mexican fashion continues to thrive, becoming an emblem of national identity.

Currently, Mexican pink is an integral part of Mexico’s country brand, evident in the clothing and textile art of native peoples.

It remains the predominant color in traditional decorations made with chopped paper.

This color is often found in various establishments, and it is immortalized in the architectural works of esteemed professionals like Pritzker Prize winner Luis Barragán and International Union of Architects Gold Medal recipient Ricardo Legorreta.

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