With all the hype of Halloween at the end of October, the Mexican festival of Dia de los Muertos is often overlooked, despite the fascinating beliefs and beautiful imagery associated with the holiday. There are two days of the year devoted to death in the Mexican calendar: November first, known as the Day of All Saints, when dead children are honoured, and November second, which is dedicated to the ‘Faithful Dead’. Despite the clear focus on death, the holiday is a celebration and serves as a way for families to honour their ancestors, and during this period tombs are painted and bedecked with flowers and candles, and cemeteries are cleaned to create a party ambience and luminescence.
The belief is that the gates of heaven open at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of dead children, known as angelitos, reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November second, the adult spirits follow and enjoy the party atmosphere provided for them by their ancestors. Local artists will produce a variety of sculptures, paintings, songs and poems as religious offerings for the dead, generally in the style of traditional imagery associated with the Day of the Dead, such as sugar skulls, known as calavera, floral imagery and La Calavera Catrina (literally, ‘dapper skeleton’, or ‘elegant skull’, a female skeleton figure that has become an icon of the holiday.
The artwork associated with Dia de los Muertos is what seems to have brought the holiday to the attention of more western societies in the US and Europe, with the ‘sugar skull’ and Mexican art style becoming a popular in the mainstream, for example as prints in fashion. While the artwork is more than admired, many don’t know of the spiritual importance they hold to the Mexican people, which some find offensive; however it cannot be denied that the imagery is vivid, exquisite and intriguing.
The Day of the Dead has inspired many artists and designers who do not observe the festival, including an editorial series of images by British photographer Rankin and Andrew Gallimore, along with Naeem Khan’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection that takes clear inspiration from the bright, floral visuals associated with the Day of the Dead festival and Mexican artwork in general, with a nod to renounced Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
If you’re looking to make a statement with your shades this Dia de los Muertos, check out our EYEYE By Italia Independent collection, featuring statement, floral print frames, or for a more subtle aesthetic have a look at Prada Ornate Studded Cateye Sunglasses for a neutral, but suitably decadent pair of specs.