I’m art directing a fashion shoot in Greenwich, Connecticut in a few weeks, and to research the retailer who’s working with us, I found their spring catalog. Here are the images. Can you spot these locations? It ain’t Greenwich.
I was already aware that Yucatan’s Colonial and European architecture is often being used as a backdrop for fashion shoots. It was especially gratifying to see a local shop doing this as well. Because in the back of my mind, I’m still thinking that Merida is a figment of my imagination.
Five years ago, Merida was praised for being so quaint and provincial. For better or worse, it was like stepping back in time coming here. And that was its strength, the sales pitch meant to appeal to wanna-be expats like me and Paul. Some bemoaned the lack of “fashion” in the city, which others felt a relief from the pretensions and pressures or life back home. I used to joke about a Baby Gap taking the place of a coffee shop on Calle 60. Today it doesn’t seem too far fetched.
I once splurged on two linen guayaberas that cost about $100 US apiece. It felt like a high-fashion moment. But that’s chickenfeed compared with what these designer duds cost.
The fashion shoot here aims for contrast: sleek new clothes juxtaposed with old-world architecture. Ironically, you probably can’t buy these clothes in the Centro. I haven’t actually been there in a few months, so I could be wrong. Things are changing so quickly these days. That Via Montejo project in the north will certainly expand the range of apparel available to the fashion-conscious consumer.
Lots of us still see a disconnect between high fashion and Merida, where poverty levels remain high. Many of us enjoy a Yucatan that’s not fashion-conscious, where you’re not judged for your plain, sensible attire. A lot of people will find it distasteful that a dignified pink facade in the Centro is being used as a prop to sell pink Manolo Blahnik pumps — and I never imagined five years ago that this blog would ever address the issue of Manolo Blahnik pumps, much less illustrate them in front of a Colonial facade.
Some of the locales aren’t so surprising. Above to the left is a model inside the courtyard of Rosas y Xocolate, an upscale boutique hotel. That was a daring, game-changing new-comer five years ago, and was the talk of the town. The “lifestyle and luxury” magazines produced and distributed in Yucatán have been around for quite a few years now and no longer feel to me to be out of place. Country Towers is building up slowly, but it’s building up. The golf courses are active. El Palacio de Hierro is on the way.
In the center of the pink-hued collage above is La Negrita, a historic corner cantina in Calle 62 that was hipsterized. Five years ago (my own personal frame of reference because that’s when Paul and I first set foot in the Centro) it was a regular, ol’ corner cantina that catered to locals. Five years ago, my first cab ride through Centro revealed a quiet, hauntingly beautiful place, but obviously under-appreciated. South of that, Santa Lucia park was almost the exclusive dominion of the city’s senior citizens dancing to romantic live music. Young lovers smooched on benches. Seniors still dance on Thursdays, and young lovers still smooch, but a proliferation of top-notch restaurants has transformed a sleepy corner park into the “it” place.
Yucatán — Mérida in particular — is changing and changing fast, and now that Greenwich, Connecticut is on to us, the change will escalate even quicker.