Letter from the editor
The story behind this month’s gorgeous peel-away cover has its own telenovela-worthy layers. We shot it at Cuadra San Cristóbal, a three-hectare equestrian estate that Pritzker Prize-winning architect Luis Barragán built in 1968. It’s located 45 minutes from the centre of Mexico City in a discreetly gated community. I first learned of Barragán’s work in an article I read last summer in The New Yorker entitled “The Architect Who Became a Diamond.” Literally. It’s a rather complicated tale, as you might expect. Briefly, conceptual artist Jill Magid had some of Barragán’s cremated remains turned into a 2.02-carat rough-cut diamond. She wanted to exchange the diamond with the owner of Barragán’s archives, a wealthy Swiss woman. (Stay with me….) Since Barragán’s death in 1988, his archives have been sealed from researchers and students in a vault in Switzerland. The unconfirmed tale is that the owner received the archives as a gift from her wealthy husband in lieu of an engagement ring. On May 31, 2016, Magid “proposed” to the owner. She offered Barragán’s “body” in exchange for his body of work, which could then be opened to researchers and possibly returned to Mexico. The offer wasn’t accepted, and the ring was displayed last fall at the San Francisco Art Institute in an exhibit aptly entitled The Proposal.
Last November, I visited Mexico City with a mission to visit Barragán’s home, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Barragán once wrote that the ideal space “must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.” I sensed those influences as I toured this exquisitely minimalist modernist home, which he built in 1948. To reach the rooftop—where Barragán went to pray—you climb a narrow stairway that has bold yellow walls. “He was a devout man who wanted to create the sense that you were climbing to heaven,” explained our guide. “The walls surrounding the deck are high enough to block out the city because Barragán only wanted to see the heavens.” The walls—which do indeed shield you from the sprawling city of 21 million—are painted bright pink and orange. “What a great setting for a shoot with Joe Fresh,” I said to my husband. “That’s their orange!” A few months later, we “proposed” to Joe Fresh to join us—and Canadian model Heather Marks—for a travel-inspired shoot in Mexico City. They accepted! (See “New Love” on page 133.) It wasn’t possible to do the shoot at Barragán’s home in Mexico City, but the owners of Cuadra San Cristóbal graciously allowed us to spend the day on their estate. It’s also a mecca for architects and students of Barragán’s work and a testament to the immense power of simplicity. On the cover, Heather is photographed in one of the site’s two pools. (One is for humans, and the other— where we shot Heather—is for horses.) There is a fountain just to the left of her, which was the #inspo soundtrack of the day. Barragán often incorporated water features in his work because he thought that the sound of cascading water evokes “peace, joy and restful sensuality.” Those were the adjectives that inspired our shoot—and we hope it inspires the same extraordinary emotions in you this summer.
“IT TAKES COURAGE TO BE A PAINTER. I ALWAYS FELT I WALKED ON THE EDGE OF A KNIFE.”
MEET CARBONERO, THE LOVELY FELLOW WHO CO-STARRED IN OUR COVER SHOOT.