Campeche, Mexico's environmentally-minded creative hub, is pushing forward with a fashion show that highlights its unique qualities.
Written by Jack Gooderidge
Continuing Campeche’s emergence from provincial capital to unique, emergent capital of values-based events and programs, once a year, on a cool winter evening, a wonderful transformation happens on its malecón.
On these genuinely amazing, one-off occasions, if you were to look down the moonlit Campeche malecón, in the distance, illuminated by a psychedelic kaleidoscopic fountain, you would see that something very different was taking place. The Campeche Moda Ultramar 2019 has arrived, and models and attendees alike are decked in their best threads, ready to watch a spectacle of design unfold before them.
As the lights dim and it becomes clear that the show is about to begin, our host and mastermind Anielka García Villajuana stands in front of the crowd, welcomes the audience, the designers, and models to Campeche - and a city that you can see in the faces of all attending is raring to show what it’s got.
Campeche has previously been fringed when it came to showpiece events like these. Internationally, Paris, New York, and London reign - and nationally, Mexico’s vibrant capital city accepts more than its fair share of the limelight. Even regionally, in Yucatán, Mérida’s bustling high streets, markets, and nightlife have historically been the destination for people looking for fresh and exciting events. All this may prompt you to ask why these designers have chosen Campeche as the backdrop to their sartorial display.
Well, therein lies the answer. Recently, Campeche has championed the pursuit of environmental projects that work with the space the city inhabits, not against it. All the fabrics displayed are woven from natural fibers, a touch that nods toward the relationship Campeche has with its surroundings and affords the show an extra piece of the city’s character. Campeche doesn’t solely show itself in the execution of this event, an explosion of light and art: it exists in the process which supports, and is supported by, a breathtaking natural environment.
Watching the show unfold along a stretch of Mexico’s longest malecón, jets of multi-colored water spinning and shooting out of the fountain, models displaying the elegance yet ruggedness of the Yucatan style, it became clear that Campeche was not the backdrop, it was the star of the show. Speaking to Anielka, she explains in heartfelt terms what it means to the city to hold this event, and what it could mean for the city in the future. There is a view for Campeche, not to remain on the cultural margins, but “to put Campeche on the fashion circuit,” to have a voice in Mexico and the world, that proudly exclaims that at its center, there is a beating, artistic heart.
And it isn’t without justification either; just look at the reach of this event and you will see the growing sphere of Campeche’s cultural command. Designers including the internationally renowned Mora Ruiz, Patricia Perez, Carlota Hellmund, and Daniel Andrade have traveled from all across Mexico to display their creations in Campeche. From Guadalajara, Chiapas, Mexico City, Tulum, and Mérida arrive the seven specially-invited designers, sixty models, eleven makeup artists, and countless other cogs in an undeniably fashionable machine. 20,000 more people joined the event via live feed, from the US to Argentina, just to get a glimpse of the garments being showcased, and the hottest designers on the circuit.
This is not a one off, and Campeche is determined to find more and more opportunities to deepen its bench when it comes to cultural events. The focus is on starting programs that support the community, galvanize young people, and get Campeche on the national stage. Anielka tells me that the priority is “realizing and supporting events and social projects in favor of environmental care, and further cultural projects for the young people of Campeche,” a vision that greets visitors like a breath of fresh air, and if the Campeche Moda Ultramar is anything to go by, then residents should get ready to be heard.
Jack Gooderidge is a freelance researcher and writer covering a variety of topics from art and culture, to politics and social affairs.