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