Mex­ico City The FASH­ION x JOE FRESH teams tuck into the sites, sounds and senses be­hind the me­trop­o­lis of more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple.

He’s tall, hand­some and strong. It’s hard to re­sist Mex­ico City’s charms.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Noreen Flana­gan Photography by Javier Lovera

For many years, I thought Mex­ico City was the prover­bial one who got away. I sus­pected he might be too com­pli­cated and a touch dan­ger­ous, and he was in­tim­i­dat­ingly im­mense. Like any enigma, he had a mys­te­ri­ous al­lure. I talked about him with oth­ers who had met him and even lived with him. They all agreed that he was charis­matic and cre­ative but mer­cu­rial and cor­rupt.

Then in 2016, The New York Times named him the num­ber one travel des­ti­na­tion, and I knew we had to meet. Last Novem­ber, we spent a week to­gether, and I was smit­ten. He was charm­ing and so­phis­ti­cated but also un­ex­pect­edly chill con­sid­er­ing he lives with over 20 mil­lion peo­ple. We met up again this March, and now our ro­mance is full on. Af­ter Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion—and his de­clared in­ten­tion to build a wall—he’s only be­come cooler. His mantra, c/o Mex­i­can fash­ion de­signer Anuar Layon, is “Mex­ico is the shit.” You won’t get to know him in one visit. The city has 16 bor­oughs, each with its own neigh­bour­hoods. If you’re game for a date, I’d sug­gest you spend time in Con­desa, Cuauhté­moc, Hipó­dromo, La Roma (Norte and Sur), Coyoacán, Colo­nia Juárez and Polanco. Get­ting around is easy via reg­is­tered cabs or Uber. I used the ride-shar­ing app, and the driv­ers were friendly and re­spect­ful. If you’re in the mood for all things posh, head to Polanco. Its Avenida Pres­i­dente Masaryk is Mex­ico City’s an­swer to Bev­erly Hills’s Rodeo Drive. There are de­signer flag­ship stores and bou­tiques, like Yakam­pot, Ale­jan­dro Car­lín and Ana­tole 13, as well as ho­tels and restau­rants that are de­cid­edly tony. In nearby Nuevo Polanco, there’s the fu­tur­is­tic Museo Soumaya, which is clad in 16,000 shim­mer­ing alu­minum tiles; it’s one of Mex­ico’s most-vis­ited art mu­se­ums. For din­ing, the restau­rant Pu­jol has long-stand­ing buzz. The of­fer­ings, cour­tesy of Chef En­rique Olvera, are au­then­tic but with a mod­ern twist: chile de ár­bol, mole madre and choco­late ta­mal with guaya­bate and tonka bean. (Make your reser­va­tions a few weeks in ad­vance of your trip.)

Apil­grim­age to Museo Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul) in the Colo­nia Del Car­men neigh­bour­hood of Coyoacán is a must-do. To avoid long line­ups, order your tick­ets on­line. The fa­mous Mex­i­can artist had an epic ro­mance with Diego Rivera. She of­fered up many quips on love, from “There have been two great ac­ci­dents in my life. One was the train the other was Diego; Diego was by far the worst” to the slightly more light­hearted “Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are a bourbon bis­cuit.” You may not find any of these bis­cuits at the nearby Mer­cado de Coyoacán, but there’s al­ways huit­la­coche—or “corn smut.” It’s not what you think. It’s a fun­gus that grows on or­ganic corn, and it’s con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy. If that’s not ex­otic enough, there’s cha­pu­lines (grasshop­pers) or cow-foot tostadas from the pop­u­lar Tostadas Coyoacán stand. For a dif­fer­ent cul­tural and ar­chi­tec­tural ex­pe­ri­ence, order an Uber and head to the Miguel Hi­dalgo district to visit Casa Luis Bar­ragán. This was the home of Mex­ico’s fa­mous Pritzker Prize-win­ning ar­chi­tect Luis Bar­ragán. This mod­ern and min­i­mal­ist sanc­tu­ary was built in 1948 and is the counter-op­po­site to Casa Azul’s colo­nial max­i­mal­ist set­ting. What they do have in com­mon is their bold use of colour. In Bar­ragán’s case, it was orange, yel­low and pink. There are only five tours a day dur­ing the week, so book your tick­ets on­line well in ad­vance of your trip. Af­ter your visit, walk through the nearby Chapultepec Park en route to the city’s hip­per ar­eas: Con­desa, Cuauhté­moc, Hipó­dromo and La Roma.

When you’re fly­ing into Mex­ico City, the view from the win­dow is both mind-blow­ing and daunt­ing be­cause the city ap­pears to stretch on for­ever. I braced my­self to feel ex­hil­a­rated and over­whelmed. What I didn’t ex­pect was to feel re­laxed and peace­ful. But that’s the vibe of Con­desa and Hipó­dromo. There’s no sense of ur­gency, as peo­ple ca­su­ally stroll down the streets or en­joy an espresso at a café. An ideal lunch spot is Lardo, a laid-back bar-brasserie owned by Elena Rey­gadas, one of Latin Amer­ica’s top chefs. Carb-load with the zuc­chini and parme­san pizza or get a pro­tein boost with grilled oc­to­pus with gar­banzo and chilies. Later, head to the rooftop bar at the Con­desa DF ho­tel and have a cu­cum­ber mez­cal mo­jito. For shop­ping, start walk­ing along Colima street in the di­rec­tion of Roma Norte. Along the way, be sure to check out Good­bye Folk, a small bou­tique that car­ries an eclec­tic mix of high-end and vin­tage pieces as well as its own line of hand­made shoes. A few doors down, at 180° Shop, you’ll find ev­ery­thing from clothes to bike gear to quirky and af­ford­able home ac­ces­sories. Roma Quince, which is more up­scale and lo­cated in a for­mer man­sion, also has a stun­ning col­lec­tion of mod­ern handcrafted Mex­i­can ac­ces­sories and decor pieces. If you can get into Rosetta—an­other one of Chef Rey­gadas’s places—con­sider your­self lucky. This plant-filled town­house resto is cozy and ro­man­tic, and it will in­spire you to plan your next date with this cap­ti­vat­ing city that ar­chi­tect Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo de­scribed per­fectly: “Peo­ple who haven’t been to Mex­ico City ex­pect it to be chaotic,” she says. “To me, it’s a beau­ti­ful mess and frus­trat­ingly in­spir­ing.” The ro­mance con­tin­ues ....

MARKS IN THE MER­CADO DE COYOACÁN; THE COURT­YARD AT MUSEO FRIDA KAHLO

LOS DANZANTES IS KNOWN FOR ITS “BUGS IN SEA­SON” MENU; UTILITARIO MEXICANO

THE PALACIO DE BELLAS ARTES IS CON­SID­ERED THE CUL­TURAL HEART OF THE CITY.

MUSEO SOUMAYA HOUSES DIEGO RIVERA’S FI­NAL MU­RAL, RíO JUCHITáN. ROSETTA IS KNOWN FOR ITS IN­VEN­TIVE SEA­SON­ALLY IN­SPIRED MENU. MUSEO TA­MAYO CON­TEM­PO­RARY ART MU­SEUM IS LO­CATED IN CHAPULTEPEC PARK.

POLANCO’S SHOP­PING MECCA: EL PALACIO DE LOS PALA­CIOS

WE TRAV­ELLED TO MEX­ICO CITY WITH JOE FRESH TO PRO­DUCE A TRAVELTHEMED FASH­ION STORY WITH MODEL HEATHER MARKS. THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN AT TOR­RES DE SATÉLITE. JACKET, $49, TOP, $19, SHORTS, $29, AND SUN­GLASSES, $19, JOE FRESH

COLIMA STREET HOT SPOTS GALERÍA BREVE AND 180° SHOP TALK ABOUT BOU­TIQUE: THE LA VALISE HO­TEL ONLY HAS THREE ROOMS.

THE RESTO AT THE CON­DESA DF HO­TEL

LARDO IS A LAID-BACK BARBRASSERIE IN CON­DESA.

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