A Look At Mexico City’s Rich Cultural Scene

In Mexico City, Joyful, Timeless Fashion—And Towering Creative Talent—Takes Center Stage

At the Museo Anahuacalli- conceived by artist Diego Rivera as a temple to both pre-Hispanic and modern art- model Aneken Zaldivar shows off her wingspan in a dramatically layered Balenciaga dress and pantaleggings; balenciaga.com. Fashion Editor: Max Ortega

When we talk about Mexico in 2023, what—and who—do we talk about? The answer to that question is embedded in a dense web of influences and talent, weaving together the worlds of fashion, visual art, architecture, film, gastronomy, and music. The precis, however, is that modern Mexico is thrilling and thriving.    

Architect Frida Escobedo—honored with the 2024 Prix Charlotte Perriand by the Créateurs Design Association & Awards—comes to mind: Not long ago, it was announced that she would be the first woman to design a wing of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. And then there’s someone like Renata Petersen, a young woman from the state of Jalisco, who in her artworks merges contemporary debates around gender roles and sexuality with age-old artisanal techniques. You may know her name from a recent collaboration with Celine, but Petersen has much more in the offing; at the moment, she is hard at work preparing two new exhibitions. “For me, Mexico is my home, it’s my refuge, it has inspired me in different ways,” she says.

Turn your attention to the movie business, and you’ll find that Mexican actors are doing some extraordinary work right now—to say nothing of filmmakers like Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro, giants all. Take Manuel García-Rulfo, whose recent projects include Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer and a forthcoming adaptation of Juan Rulfo’s 1955 novel Pedro Páramo. Diego Calva, Dario Yazbek Bernal, and Mabel Cadena are other examples, the latter of whom left Mexico to play Namora in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. “All that I sacrificed was transformed into something amazing,” she says of the experience.

And what’s a discussion of modern Mexican culture without nods to its food and music? Elena Reygadas, of the sensational restaurant Rosetta, in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood, was recently named the greatest female chef in the world; while regional Mexican music is reaching a wider (and younger) audience these days, with Yahritza y Su Esencia—a band of three siblings from Yakima, Washington—emerging as some of its greatest advocates.

Others have left their mark on fashion: Model Tindi Mar, a native of Guadalajara, made her runway debut at Louis Vuitton in 2021 before walking for Dior, Missoni, and Alexandre Vauthier. She once told Vogue that no matter where she goes, she always carries a piece of Mexico with her, whether a handmade garment inherited from her mother or a cherished necklace. She is joined in this portfolio by Celeste Lopez-Romero—a favorite of Ferragamo, Chloé, Gabriela Hearst, and Jason Wu—and a newer face, Aneken Saldivar, who has walked for Bottega Veneta and, in May, appeared in Dior’s resort 2024 show at the Colegio de San Ildefonso. 

Vast as Mexico is, the thread connecting all of these people and their stories is the nation’s iconic capital. En la ciudad, one can visit Mexico’s holiest site, the Basilica of Guadalupe, or marvel at the Museo Anahuacalli, a temple for ancient Mesoamerican art established by Diego Rivera. Venture a little further afield, and one finds Xochimilco, where colorfully decorated boats, or trajineras, make their way through the chinampas system of floating gardens, cultivated with flowers and vegetables since the days of the Aztecs. Mexico City, it’s clear, is a place not burdened by its rich sense of history, but ennobled by it. 

Below, we invite you to see the city through the lens of two native sons: Vogue contributing editor Max Ortega and Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, known for his work with Cuarón (Children of MenGravity) and Iñárritu (BirdmanThe Revenant), as well as Terrence Malick, Mike Nichols, and more. For all the ways that CDMX has changed since they left it (after high school for Ortega and after college for Lubezki), it has also remained just the same in all the ways that count: a beautiful work in progress, teeming and textured and alive. Vamos.

Aboard a trajinera, used to navigate the famous (and rather surreal-looking) canals of Xochimilco, models Celeste Romero and Zaldivar cut through the mist in vibrantly patterned Rabanne dresses; pacorabanne.com for information.
In a lace blouse from Dior (Dior boutiques) and a glorious floral headdress, model Tindi Mar calls to mind the great Frida Kahlo.
Inside the Museo Anahuacalli—for which Rivera and Juan O’Gorman, a fellow Mexican painter and architect, designed a series of striking mosaics—Romero is sweet and sylphlike in a Jil Sander by Lucie and Luke Meier dress; jilsander.com.
On the rooftop terrace of the Museo del Estanquillo Colecciones Carlos Monsiváis in the city’s Centro Histórico, Romero, Zaldivar, and Mar pick up the earthen tones and textures of the neighboring Church of San Felipe Neri (also known as La Profesa) in coats, dresses, and boots from Louis Vuitton; select Louis Vuitton boutiques.
Inside the rambling Brutalist manse that multimedia artist Pedro Reyes shares with his wife, fashion designer Carla Fernández, the studio space is the backdrop for more extraordinary creations. Zaldivar wears Alaïa; maison-alaia.com. Mar wears Victoria Beckham; victoriabeckham.com.
Descending into Fernández and Reyes’s vast living room, Romero wears a Michael Kors Collection shirt and skirt; michaelkors​.com. Zaldivar wears a tunic by Carla Fernández made in collaboration with Feliciana Hernández and Gilberto Nuci Pérez; carlafernandez​.com.
Zaldivar wears an Alexander McQueen coat; alexander​mcqueen​.com.
Fresh from releasing their second EP, Obsessed Pt. 2, this past September, members of the Washington State-based musical trio Yahritza y su Esencia hang loose. From left: Armando Martinez wears a Dior Men top. Balenciaga jeans. Ferragamo boots. Yahritza Martinez wears a Willy Chavarria shirt and pants. Hanes T-shirt. Jairo Martinez wears a Burberry shirt. Dickies pants. Loewe boots.
From left: The Guadalajara-born Manuel Garcia-Rulfo—who stars in Netflix’s The Lincoln Lawyer, adapted from Michael Connelly’s books by David E. Kelley and Ted Humphrey—wears a Gucci jacket. Hanes tank top. Dickies pants. Mexico City native Dario Yazbek Bernal, who can be seen this fall in the romantic thriller Pet Shop Days, wears a Gabriela Hearst jacket and pants. G.H. Bass Originals shoes. Actor Mabel Cadena, who hails from Atizapán de Zaragoza, just northwest of the city, and appeared last year as Namora in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, wears a Burberry shirt and skirt. Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shoes.
Babylon and Narcos: Mexico star Diego Calva, an alumnus of the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC), a prestigious film school in Mexico City, wears a Gucci jacket, T-shirt, and pants. Alexander McQueen boots. Location: Proyecto Público Prim.
Downtown, at the Boca del Río restaurant on Ribera de San Cosme, Guadalajara-based artist Renata Petersen wears a Loewe top and skirt. Bottega Veneta earrings. Beside her, architect Frida Escobedo, who has studios in both Mexico and New York City—where she’s been tapped to reimagine the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s modern and contemporary galleries—wears a Bottega Veneta jacket, top, skirt, and belt.
Acapulco-born actor and singer Lizeth Selene, of Netflix’s Rebelde, wears Alexander McQueen earrings.
Recently named the world’s best female chef, Elena Reygadas—of the elegant restaurant Rosetta, in Colonia Roma—wears a Gabrielle Venguer dress.
Photographed by Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, Vogue, November 2023
Soaring over Ecatepec de Morelos on the Mexicable, Mar catches the light—and throws a little of her own—in a shimmering floral Richard Quinn top and skirt.
In Xochimilco Romero wears a Max Mara dress; us.maxmara.com.

Photography by Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, Styled by Max Ortega

In this story: hair, Joey George; makeup, Ana Gutiérrez de Velazco. Produced by Gustavo Midence for The Lift and Park Pictures. Set Design: Nicole Sagues.

This article was originally published on Vogue.com

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