From Humble Beginnings to Fashion Phenomenon, New Exhibition Tells the Story of the Guayabera

The Guayabera: A Shirt’s Story exhibition opens to the public on June 29, 2012 at HistoryMiami, 101 West Flagler Street in Downtown Miami

The Guayabera: A Shirt’s Story, on view at the Museum of HistoryMiami from June 29, 2012 through January 13, 2013, will address the guayabera’s history from its nineteenth century origins to the present day. A traditional piece of menswear, the guayabera is arguably the best-known piece of clothing worn by Latin American and Caribbean populations worldwide.

“The HistoryMiami South Florida Folklife Center is proud to present this exhibition on the history of the guayabera — a real cultural icon. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first exhibition to tell the shirt’s fascinating story”

“The HistoryMiami South Florida Folklife Center is proud to present this exhibition on the history of the guayabera — a real cultural icon. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first exhibition to tell the shirt’s fascinating story,” said Michael Knoll, curator of the exhibition and HistoryMiami folklorist.

The guayabera is distinguished by its four pockets and vertical stripes of pleating and/or embroidery. Although the precise birthplace of the garment is uncertain, historical evidence suggests that the shirt emerged in Cuba. Also referred to as a “Mexican wedding shirt,” the garment is popular in Mexico and the American states to its north. The exhibition will trace the shirt’s journey through Cuba, Mexico and the United States, where it is particularly popular in Miami, Los Angeles, New York City and Houston, cities that boast large Latin American and Caribbean populations.

The 700-square foot exhibition will feature historic and contemporary versions of the garment. On display will be Cuban and Spanish military uniforms of the late 19th century, a classic version of the shirt sold by Cuban department store El Encanto during the mid-twentieth century, the garment’s heyday in Cuba, and Mexican-produced versions, including one worn by former Mexican President Luis Echeverría, that capture the migration of the shirt’s production to the Yucatan Peninsula after the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The exhibition will also feature guayaberas made by an array of contemporary designers including Cubavera®, a brand of Perry Ellis International, headquartered in Miami; Arcadio Diaz, a Dominican-born designer who specializes in women’s clothing; and Miami-based Berta Bravo, also known as “The Guayabera Lady.” Also on display will be a custom-made guayabera dress worn by Grammy© Award winning recording artist and the “Queen of Salsa” Celia Cruz and a late 1940s guayabera crafted by tailor Ramón Puig.

Organized by the HistoryMiami South Florida Folklife Center, The Guayabera: A Shirt’s Story is sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts and by Cubavera®, a trademark owned by PEI Licensing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Perry Ellis International. Additional support comes from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

More detailed information, the calendar of public programs and images are available upon request.

About HistoryMiami

HistoryMiami is the premier cultural institution celebrating Miami’s history as the unique crossroads of the Americas. We accomplish this through exhibitions, city tours, education, research, collections and publications. Visit www.historymiami.org for hours, admission and directions.

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