ES­CAPE ART

Mex­ico City’s cre­ative re­vival, plus in­cred­i­ble beach and cenote breaks.

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

FRIDA KAHLO’S LIFE­LONG HOME, known as Museo Casa Azul for its cobalt blue ex­te­rior, is lo­cated in the artis­tic district of Coyoacán and is a cel­e­bra­tion of the late painter and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist’s life and oeu­vre – and a cel­e­bra­tion of colour even de­vout mono­chrome en­thu­si­asts can get be­hind. Every day, throngs of Kahlo fans ex­plore the mu­seum’s rooms, ab­sorb­ing her bril­liance, which is echoed in the bright tiles, the vivid self-por­traits hang­ing on the walls and her en­vi­able closet. (The lat­ter reg­u­larly in­spires the fash­ion world, most re­cently Cush­nie et Ochs and Roland Mouret for spring 18.)

With an ex­hi­bi­tion at Lon­don’s V&A mu­seum cel­e­brat­ing her com­pelling and com­plex life story, coin­cid­ing with a new cof­fee-ta­ble book re­lease, Frida Kahlo:

Mak­ing Her Self Up, you can’t help but won­der what the late artist would say if she could see the in­ter­na­tional spotlight now shin­ing on her and her home city.

Thanks to artists like Kahlo, Mex­ico’s cap­i­tal has long been a cre­ative hub, but World De­sign Cap­i­tal 2018 sta­tus, a nod from the World De­sign Or­gan­i­sa­tion, is like a gi­ant gold star for the cre­ative re­newal that’s been hap­pen­ing here over the past decade. Think af­ford­able hous­ing by edgy ar­chi­tects like Frida Es­cobedo, in­vest­ment in green space and tech, and bur­geon­ing art and food scenes. For trav­ellers, that means lots to see and do (and eat). There are over 150 mu­se­ums in the city – check out

Museo Soumaya, which boasts an alu­minium ex­te­rior as beau­ti­ful as the

66,000 works of art in­side (in­clud­ing an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of Rodin stat­ues). There’s also the Torre Re­forma (the tallest build­ing in Mex­ico City) and count­less restau­rants. “There’s a spe­cial vibe in the city,” says Emilio Cabrero, ar­chi­tect, de­signer and gen­eral direc­tor of De­sign Week Mex­ico and World De­sign Cap­i­tal Mex­ico City 2018. “Peo­ple are vis­it­ing the city for the gas­tron­omy and the arts.”

As neigh­bour­hoods evolve, there has been a con­scious ef­fort not to bull­doze over the past. The re­sult is a mash-up of old and new that feels unique. Con­desa (Mex­ico City’s ver­sion of Soho) har­bours Art Deco homes trans­formed into cafes and bars, while the bustling Cen­tro His­torico is lined with Art Nou­veau and neo­clas­si­cal gems. Ad­mire the or­ange-and-yel­low dome of the Pala­cio de Bel­las Artes cul­tural cen­tre, and the art col­lec­tion in­side, then stroll by the

16th-cen­tury Casa de los Azule­jos build­ing, fa­mous for its blue-and-white-tiled façade.

Other spa­ces have been trans­formed into ur­ban mar­kets where gourmet tacos are snatched up like The Row at sam­ple sales. (Best bet: Casa Quimera in Roma Norte.) In­side the sta­bles of a home de­signed by famed Mex­i­can ar­chi­tect Luis Bar­ragán, you’ll find Tetetlán (tetet­lan.com), a space fea­tur­ing a cafe, yoga stu­dio and show­case for lo­cal de­sign­ers and artists-in-res­i­dence. Fi­nally, pop over to Roma, a bar­rio that feels some­what like Brook­lyn.

Back in Kahlo’s ’hood, dis­cover the mar­kets, filled with rain­bow piñatas, hot tamales and voodoo dolls. It’s not only tourists who love Coyoacán: Mex­i­can fash­ion de­signer Carla Fer­nán­dez and her hus­band, artist Pe­dro Reyes, re­cently re­mod­elled a bru­tal­ist home in the district, in­cor­po­rat­ing ar­ti­sanal stone­ma­sonry into the de­sign. That pas­sion for pre­serv­ing tra­di­tional tech­niques ex­tends to her col­lab­o­ra­tions with lo­cal weavers in her epony­mous la­bel (car­lafer­nan­dez.com).

Many other de­sign­ers ex­press “made in Mex­ico” pride, com­bin­ing craft tech­niques with global trends. Up-and-coming fash­ion de­sign­ers such as Ar­mando Takeda

(ar­man­do­takeda.com) and Ale­jan­dra Que­sada (ale­jan­draque­sada.com) work with in­dige­nous ar­ti­sans to ac­cent their col­lec­tions with hand-em­broi­dered and ikat-pat­terned tex­tiles. If your suit­case isn’t full from shop­ping in Coyoacán, head to Onora (ono­ra­casa.com) for hand-crafted home decor and Canamiel

(@canamiel) for high-end Latin fash­ion punc­tu­ated with brights. Con­sider your­self (colour) con­verted.

DOWN TEMPO: Af­ter blitz­ing Mex­ico City, in­dulge your spir­i­tual side at Ch­ablé Re­sort

SEAFOOD DIET: Feast on tra­di­tional fish dishes in the Four Sea­sons court­yard

CUL­TURAL CHECK­LIST: Make time to see the Frida Kahlo mu­seum and do a yoga class at Tetetlán (far right)

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