“For me, it is living in one’s dream,” Marjorie says as she roams around her restored Casona in Barrio de Santiago. There’s a quote on her wall from Salvador Dalí that states: “There is no way I’m going back to México. I can’t stand to be in a country that is more surrealist than my paintings.” And that’s just how everything in La Malaquita feels, like a dream.
Marjorie Skouras is an interior designer who, after 30 years of fantastical thinking, made Mérida her home a few years ago. La Malaquita, her most recent passion project, is a boutique unlike any other. Filled with unique pieces of furniture, lighting, jewelry, and clothing, you can find it in the heart of Centro. The stars of La Malaquita are Marjorie’s collection of vintage Mexican dresses from the 70s and 80s. Marjorie tells me how, during the filming of “The Night of the Iguana,” after discovering designer Josefa’s shop in Puerto Vallarta, Elizabeth Taylor brought these dresses to Hollywood. This made Josefa’s creations an overnight sensation with personalities such as Grace Kelly. Now, years later, people are starting to take notice. Having traveled all over the world, from Hollywood to Australia, Skouras explains that these history-filled garments are finally making their way back home. While some of these pieces are available for sale, others will be kept as part of a permanent collection at La Malaquita.
A vital aspect of La Malaquita and what makes it so special is the importance it gives to making all of their products in México. Marjorie spent three years looking for the right collaborators and explains how artisans here make you think out of your own box. Inspiration in México is endless for Marjorie, who says she may draw some from Mexican music from the 40s and 50s as well as old Mexican films.
We cross the street to take a look at her newly finished home. After two years of restoring, you can feel the life of colonial house with a voice of its own. Marjorie looks up to her lovely lavender walls in the entrance, “I can’t believe I picked that lavender.” Marjorie is a color person. “We’re repainting this room next week. It’s going to be a very dark, intense pink,” she continues.
I point out a bug made from crystals attached to the wall and learn they come from some “great guys in Paris who do really serious restorations – French crystal things.” Every piece has a story, and in this house, the narrative is endless. Her vintage stove, for example, has been in her possession for 30 years. She says it’s like an old car and will probably go to her daughter. In one of the rooms, the roof fell in during restorations and as destiny had it, it rained that night. Turns out, the precipitation washed the paint from the walls to reveal its original stencils. Surreal.
We sit on her terrace after touring the house, every room as magical as the pieces in them. I’m introduced to Georges Pompidou, a retired dachshund, as well as Tongolele (a kitty given to Georges as a gift). Marjorie defines her and her husband’s move to Mérida like the ultimate adventure – an incredible period of time where things came together. However, the migration to México had been in place for a while. “I knew it was going to be México,” Marjorie explains. They looked at San Miguel de Allende around 1992, then started reading about Mérida in 2015, when a series of coincidences pointed them to the Ciudad Blanca as the place to be.
La Malaquita will soon start to deal with photography, specializing in Mexican and Latin American photographers. The designer talks about curating pop-up dinners, as well as hosting ladies’ luncheons. She describes México’s culture as wildly inspirational. “I just got a book on Mexican butterflies. You can be sure there will be some stuff with butterflies.” She stops to think for a second. “I want to learn how to embroider. It’s out of control.” Marjorie has only just begun making her creative way through Yucatán’s capital and you can tell. Personally, I can’t wait to see what she and La Malaquita dream up next.
Editorial by Greta Garrett
Photography by Nora Garrett for use in Yucatán Today
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