Weather Vain: Mexico City, Mexico - 70 and Clear
Polar vortex wha? In Mexico City today, it’s GD ideal. How to make the most of unbeatable weather in the City of Palaces. —erica
Clockwise from top left:
+ Alynne Lavigne earrings—golden like the mezcal at El Palenquito.
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Monica Ruzansky’s Rockin’ Guide to Mexico City
A half dozen places you just gotta hit.
For the jewelry designer Monica Ruzansky, there’s no place like home. And though she finds New York plenty appealing, the exuberance of her native Mexico City has no rival. “The energy, the food, the nightlife—it’s addictive,” explains the mastermind behind AILI’s pared-down gems. So book a trip, visit six of Monica’s fave spots, and don’t be surprised if you never want to leave. —mattie kahn
“This delicious place is on the fancy side but still casual. Every time I go back to Mexico, I have to visit it. Make sure to get the soft-shell crab taquitos, tuna sashimi, and the zihuatanejo tiritas—fish cured in lime. They also make their own fluffy and tasty tortillas. And all of this is best when you accompany it with a clamato-michelada.” (Durango 200, Roma, Cuauhtémoc)
“This is a more casual restaurant. I love this place for the aguachile de camarón, which is raw shrimp cured in lime and chili powder. I could easily eat an order for myself and not share.” (Nuvo Leon 109, Cuauhtémoc)
La Lagunilla Market
“La Lagunilla is a really great flea market, where you’ll find all kinds of Mexican vintage objects, old movie props, furniture, toys, clothing… I also go there to visit one of the regulars who sells stones and has an amazing selection of minerals.” (Rayón and Allende)
Mercado de Sonora
“This market is fascinating! It’s divided into different sections. On one side, there are traditional Mexican toys and piñatas. And on the other, there are all sorts things for white and black magic. You can find anything from soaps to attract love, amulets or herbs for any kind of medical condition…I highly recommend it.” (Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419, Merced Balbuena)
Parque de Chapultepec
“The one place not to be missed is the Parque de Chapultepec. It is the biggest national park in Mexico. Have some flour chicharrones with valentine—a spicy sauce—as a snack while you go for a stroll around the lake, and then go up the hill to the castle for a magnificent view of the city. The castle is now a museum that was once the home of Maximiliano, the ill-fated emperor of Mexico.” (Periodista, Miguel Hidalgo)
“One place where I like to hang out with my friends is an old Spanish restaurant and cantina called Covadonga. You can still find men playing dominos. It is a simple but authentic bar—there is no music, but between the conversations of the crowd, you can hear the domino pieces falling, like a soundtrack to the night.” (Puebla 115, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc)
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Monica Ruzansky knows that good things take time—it’s why there was a whole eight-year gap between when she crafted her first piece and when she founded AILI, her line of wear-every-day fine jewelry. “It was definitely not instantaneous,” she recalls. “The idea for the business grew slowly.” It also necessitated a career change.
A professional photographer since the early 2000s, Monica couldn’t quite shake a growing desire to move beyond behind-the-lens observation. Hoping to satisfy her curiosity, the Mexico City native enrolled in a series of jewelry-making classes. And while her intention had been to make only a few delicate creations to wear herself, friends, family members, and a slew of strangers kept asking after her pieces. When the compliments followed Monica to New York—where she moved in 2005—the designer eventually snapped up a vacant spot in a shared studio in Red Hook and, in 2011, decided to commit herself to the trade full-time, making teensy rings, necklaces, and earrings studded with itty-bitty, gleaming gems. “AILI means light in Gaelic. As a photographer, light has always been a source of inspiration,” explains Monica, shedding some, er, light on how her past life still influences her work now. “I feel very much that my job is to reveal what is already so precious in nature. Light is how the world reveals itself to us. It illuminates what we might otherwise miss.” —mattie kahn
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Meet Gabriela Artigas
She moved to L.A. to get into the jewelry biz, not the entertainment one.
When Gabriela Artigas started designing jewelry, she didn’t really mean to. She was just humoring her mom, who wanted some not-too-fancy pieces to wear to a wedding in Mexico City, where Gabriela was raised and was studying textile design. But on a trip to L.A. to visit her brother, who was enrolled in architecture school there, she got her first order: “Someone at Maxfield bought the first piece I ever designed right off of my mom’s neck,” she recalls.
Something about Los Angeles and Gabriela worked. And soon enough she made the permanent move north. “I decided to just come here for a few months,” she says. “And then I never went back.” Those early designs—big, bold necklaces that brought together coral, ebony, mother of pearl, and whatever materials were luring her in at the moment—have evolved into the dynamic sort of line that’s full of surprises: tiny gold rings sit alongside heavy body chains and bohemian leather wrist wraps play off aggressive, coated-steel necklaces. The whole range of designs pays tribute to her two hometowns. “All of the pieces are made in Los Angeles or in Mexico City—nothing is produced overseas. Everyone who I work with has been doing this for a really long time, so they have the skills and experience,” she explains. And, at it since 2003, so does she. —erica