“There’s a sense of magic in our day-to-day, if you’re open to it,” Marjorie Skouras told me in the heart of her workshop, La Malaquita. She’s talking about México, a country she has always loved, and to which she feels strongly connected. “I’d wanted to live here for a very long time,” she added.
Marjorie was born in San Francisco; she worked in the film industry in Los Angeles before turning a new leaf and changing career paths (she is an interior designer). She reminds me that California, “used to be México, and is still very heavily influenced by it,” so she grew up with the culture, the music, the food. In the 1970s, Marjorie Skouras started visiting México and experienced first-hand our country’s sheer beauty, appeal, and richness. Without a doubt, she was captivated by the culture; “people are really passionate,” she says. And after years of dreaming, Marjorie moved to Mérida in 2015.
The vintage dresses in the collection
Marjorie Skouras started buying Mexican vintage dresses right about then (she wanted to wear them here), and, surprising as it may be, it was – mostly – an online experience. Today, Marjorie has a personal collection of about 250 garments, made between the 60s and the 70s, that showcases Méxicos’s influence on her.
There are modern expressions of popular art, but, Marjorie Skouras believes, “it spans a thousand of years.” There were some pieces of fabric that were only made for five years in México City in the 60s; they have Maya patterns and pre-Hispanic artistic elements. In addition, these dresses feature traditional techniques and art by local artisans in the form of embroidery, bead-, and ribbon-work. Some designers even worked with wood and metal.
Originally made in México, the dresses came from all over the world, including places as far away as Australia and Japan. Nowadays, Marjorie’s collection includes dresses from highly regarded designers. Josefa Ibarra, Vicente Camarena, and Georgia Charuhas (who by the way lives in Mérida) are just a few of them.
A closer glance at Josefa Ibarra
Known simply as Josefa, she was a renowned designer whose dresses were coveted by celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor. In 1963, upon her arrival at Puerto Vallarta to film The Night of the Iguana, the legendary actress took with her a considerable amount of dresses to wear back in Los Angeles. They would garner plenty of attention. In a matter of time, Elizabeth Taylor’s friends would also buy their own Josefas, turning it into a trend in multiple countries.
Many designers joined the trend, and over the years, many pieces were lovingly kept and preserved in closets around the world, souvenirs of a moment in time representing México’s age of glamour.
An invitation: the exhibition
How would you like to see 52 vintage dresses from Marjorie Skouras’s personal collection? The Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatán is hosting the exhibit “Transposición: El Arte Popular Reinterpretado,” closing by the end of 2022. If you’re a fashion (or art) lover, you really shouldn’t miss it.
Editorial by Olivia Camarena Cervera
Yucatecan communicologist. Your favorite Assistant Editor. Writer, blogger, and bookstagrammer in her spare time. She also experiments with TikTok.
Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatán
Calle 50-A #487 x 57 y 59, Centro
Tel. 999 928 5263
FB: Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatán
Tue. – Sat. 10 am – 5 pm, Sun. 10 am – 3 pm
La Malaquita – Marjorie Skouras
Calle 59 #552 x 68 y 70, Centro
FB: La Malaquita Merida
Tel. 999 325 3531
By appointment: Thu. – Sat. 12 – 5 pm
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