Welcome to Who What Wear Travels, a series of curated guides to destinations the fashion set loves. Consider this your download on everything from the chicest stays to the most memorable meals to the perfect travel wardrobe, all vetted by stylish locals and well-traveled fashion folks.
If you've been keeping up with Who What Wear Travels, you know we're tapped into the best of the best when it comes to must-visit destinations. It seems like every one of the coolest people in my orbit across L.A. and NYC is either getting back from a trip to Mexico City or planning one. I managed to visit last spring, and I can say with certainty that the hype is very real. From the food scene, which is bursting with exciting Michelin star-level restaurants like Pujol to the incredible art scene and the Spanish colonial-meets-Brutalist architecture, Mexico City is a must-visit destination for anyone with even a single creative bone in their body. From a style perspective, there's nothing more exciting than seeing and discovering emerging fashion designers, and Mexico City provides a gold mine of local creatives who showcase distinct craftsmanship, style, and personality.
Mexico City is one of Latin America's biggest fashion and design industries, and the city is a cultural hub whose local fashion scene is increasingly capturing the attention of worldwide design enthusiasts. The city has undergone a powerful cultural awakening and has seen an influx of young people who are revitalizing the local art, party, and fashion scenes.
Everyone needs to visit, insists Chava Studio founder Olivia Villanti. "So many people talk about coming for the food which, yes, is excellent but of course there’s so much more," she explains. "It isn’t a coincidence that many artists have called Mexico City home because there is something about this city that really provokes your imagination: A must-visit if you’re feeling stuck and need some inspiration."
We tapped a group of the city's fashion insiders to give us their shortlist of go-to spots. Karla Martinez de Salas is the head of editorial content for Vogue Mexico and Latin America and has been in the fashion industry for over 15 years. She relocated to Mexico City from New York in 2015 and is drawn to its many contrasts, especially the mashup of Spanish colonial architecture mixed with Brutalist-style buildings.
Olivia Villanti is also an industry veteran, having worked in magazines' marketing and content departments for over a decade, including working as editorial director of Madewell. Now, she's relocated with her family to her husband's hometown of Mexico City where she launched her made-to-order clothing brand, Chava Studio.
Roberta Maceda is the founder of Octavia Casa, a boutique hotel in La Condesa that takes its name and stylish POV from Maceda's original venture, a clothing line called Octavia which mainly wholesales for department stores in Mexico.
Nia Thomas is the founder and designer of her eponymous fashion label, a line of ethically made knitwear that has earned her digital shelf space at Moda Operandi and Shopbop. Originally from New York, Thomas has been based in Condesa, Mexico City for the past two years and credits the weather, people, food, and green space as some factors that drew her there.
"Octavia Casa is extremely special," beams Who What Wear Editorial Director Lauren Eggertsen. "It's a peaceful oasis tucked away in the La Condesa region of Mexico City that has only seven rooms, which makes the entire stay feel very intimate. Octavia Casa originates from the Mexican clothing brand Octavia, so taste is exuding from every corner of this minimally designed space. The hotel serves a stunning small breakfast every day in the lobby and drinks and snacks in the evening. You might be thinking this sounds like a bed and breakfast, but I can assure you the atmosphere here is much more refined and private than what you would expect, especially due to the size of the property. The staff is extremely friendly, the location could not be more idyllic, and your camera rolls will definitely thank you since every corner of this property is wildly photogenic."
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Book as many things as you can prior to your arrival. Ask the hotel you’re staying at for help. Do not worry if you don’t get to see everything—it will be another excuse to come back.
Wide, tree-lined avenues, stately art nouveu mansions, and art deco apartment buildings are what give the La Condesa neighborhood its distinctly European feel. Named after its posh surrounds is Condesa DF, a design-forward hotel situated ideally on a shaded street adjacent to the Parque España. It was one of Mexico City's first boutique hotels and its arrival in 2005 marked the beginning of the city's pull on the trendsetting crowd. Housed in a French neoclassical building, Condesa DF also boasts a classic car art installation by the Mexican visual artist Betsabeé Romero which is permanently parked outside and contributes to the hotel's Old-World-meets-New-World feel.
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Try to learn some basic Spanish if possible, Villanti says. A lot of Mexicans try to speak English or do speak English, but it's so appreciated when the effort is made. You don't have to be fluent—just give it a shot!
"These are simple rooms in one of the most romantic and beautiful converted haciendas in the city," Villanti tells me. "Proyecto Publico Prim offers free meditations every day and weekly programming, plus it has a wonderful restaurant, Taverna Prim. The rooms can be noisy, but I think staying here really brings you inside the city, rather than staying at a traditional hotel.”
More stays to jot down: Casa Polanco is in a renovated Spanish Revival-style mansion in the posh neighborhood of Polanco and earned a spot on CN Traveler's Hot List; By the same team who brought us Condesa DF is newcomer Circulo Mexicano, a stylish meditation in simplicity in the historic city center; Martinez de Salas recommends Casa Ignacia, an exclusive bed-and-breakfast in Colonia Roma
Before you roll your eyes, let me just say, I know. Featured in seemingly every travel guide across the internet, the hype around Contramar can make you feel outsized. Even I questioned whether it was worth it to try my luck at grabbing a table sans reservation, yes, even at 1 p.m. on a Monday. But if it's your first time visiting Mexico City, I'd say a meal here is absolutely required. The seafood-focused restaurant is situated in the charming Roma neighborhood and is best experienced during the day when the airy dining room turns into one big daytime happy hour filled with the city's most stylish visitors, who flock here from all over to sip white wine and dine on the restaurant's famous tuna tostadas and whole fish dressed in red and green sauce. Finish off your meal with the fig tart and a stroll through nearby Parque México in Condesa, and you'll have yourself a properly indulgent afternoon. Thank me later.
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Get ready to sit at lunch for a long time, Martinez de Salas notes. People usually eat at around 2 p.m., so plan meals accordingly.
Casa Seminario is Mexico City's oldest family home. It was restored in the early '90s and then again in 2022, and it now hosts a cultural program, art studio, guest rooms, and a unique dining experience by Colectivo Amasijo. Villanti gushes that it's "a gorgeous restaurant serving traditional Mexican cuisine in the oldest inhabited home in the entire city." She loves the neighborhood, Centro, which is the historic district. "You'll be dining right next to the Templo Mayor, which is a must-visit here in Mexico City as well,” she adds. Dining experiences take place Tuesday through Saturday and are reservation-only through the Instagram page @colectivo_amasijo.
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Be a good tipper. People working in the service industry live off of tips and Thomas suggests 15% as the bare minimum.
You'll quickly come to learn that Mexico City is a breeding ground for Michelin-star quality dining and the list of the city's best restaurants tends to repeat many of the same names like Pujol, Contramar, and Rosetta. But one spot that doesn't get nearly enough attention as it should is Botánico. Eggertsen told me she was shocked to learn that no one was talking about it because it was the most memorable meal of her recent visit. The art deco–designed space features a secret garden-esque patio that makes for the perfect backdrop to people-watch and enjoy something off its constantly rotating menu.
More meals to jot down: El Turix is a no-frills taquería vetted by Bon Appetit and CN Traveler serving up cochinita pibil in Mexico City's Beverly Hills district of Polanco; Ranked as one of the World's 50 Best Bars, Baltra is a mixology bar with a Darwin-esque Galápagos theme and some of the best cocktails in the city; Panadería Rosetta is a must-visit bakery with multiple locations—you won't regret the guava-and-cheese pastry; Martinez de Salas suggests the traditional Mexican dishes at Nico's for any meal of the day; Maceda adores Mi Compa Chava for seafood and suggests going for a late lunch during the week to avoid the weekend crowd.
Casa Orgánica is less of an architectural destination and more of a complete experience for the senses. "Upon entry, you're immediately overtaken with a sense of serenity," Elissa Abd, head of influencers at Aritzia, tells us. "At Casa Orgánica, we walk around barefoot, walking through curved walls in the same sand-colored hue. The architect, Javier Senosiain, is considered to be one of the first architects to explore organic architecture in Mexico, so it was incredible to experience his work so vividly." Set outside of the city center, Abd insists that the house is worth every minute of the one-hour drive it takes to get there. While it is currently closed to the public for visits, we suggest checking back ahead of your next trip to the city in case it reopens in time.
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Uber is the way to get around unless you want to brave the public city bikes, Villanti says, which are also a great way to get around (especially on Sunday mornings when they close one of the city's main avenues Reforma to allow for bikers only).
If the name Casa Gilardi doesn't ring a bell, the imagery of it definitely will. The Luis Barragán–designed residential home is a must-see when in Mexico City and images of its fuchsia and lavender terrace are a dime a dozen on Instagram. The house was the Mexican architect's last completed project and private tours of the residence are given by the family who currently resides in it.
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Museums will be fuller on Sunday, Maceda says, so the best day to go to museums is Thursday or Saturday.
Frida Kahlo has left a lasting influence on Mexico City, and her works can be seen in many of the museums across CDMX, including at Museo Dolores Olmedo, where the world's largest collection of her works resides. But a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum is a singular experience. It inhabits the late artist's former residence and visiting it not only offers a glimpse into her oeuvre but also a deeper understanding of her life through her surroundings. For fashion buffs, don't miss the smaller section that houses Kahlo's wardrobe, including the full body cast that she wore after her accident which she painted and transformed into a movable sculpture.
More sights to jot down: Museo Jumex houses a world-renowned collection of modern and contemporary works by the likes of Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst; Casa Ortega is a lesser-known home designed by Barragán and was among the architect's first residential properties in Mexico City; Villanti tells us that Museo Anahuacalli houses artist Diego Rivera’s personal collection of pre-Hispanic art.
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Traffic in Mexico City can be rough, so plan your day accordingly. Villanti suggests planning your days around which part of the city you will be in and trying to stay there instead of hopping around too much throughout one days. She also recommends to minimize going from the center of the city to the south during the weekdays at peak hours.
The may get a lot of chatter about its art and design scenes, but there's undoubtedly a set of rising fashion designers putting CDMX on the global style map. Just take Chava Studio, for instance, a shirting label whose founder Olivia Villanti we tapped as an expert for this guide. Villanti launched the brand in 2020 and each one of her bespoke cotton and linen tailoring is designed and developed in partnership with Gilly e Hijos, a 30-year old family- run fabric and shirting studio.
By now you should be getting the sense Mexico City is a place where fashion, art, and design collide and flourish. After all, the city is considered to be Latin America's biggest design hub, and now its local makers are starting to capture international attention, too. One such local studio is Perla Valtierra, a ceramicist who makes gorgeous vases and table ware with a distinct scalloped design in a variety of earthy shades. Fellow creative Villanti insists her work is simply gorgeous and relies to Valtierra's pieces to make great gifts.
If your idea of a perfect shopping day includes getting lost among shelves of art books and stylish magazines, then head to Casa Bosques. The charming bookstore is set in a colonial-style mansion in Roma Norte and features an expert curation of printed matter on art, architecture, photography, design, and fashion for the aesthetic-minded crowd. "My friends and I spent over an hour in Casa Bosques," Who What Wear's associate social media editor Kayla Allen tells me, gushing that "it has such a great selection of everything from poetry collections to magazines and fun little goodies. A great place to get souvenirs."
More shopping to jot down: Ethical knitwear label Nia Thomas has a showroom which you can email (email@example.com) to make an appointment for; Vogue called Hi-Bye Mexico City's "coolest concept store"; Goodbye Folk is a multilevel vintage store in the Rome Norte district; Villanti and CN Traveler suggest fragrance boutique Xinú for fragrances based off Mexico’s indigenous flora.
Mexico City is not as hot as people think, informs Maceda. "For this city, you have to prepare to experience all types of weather on the same day from hot to cold to rainy to sunshine again almost always. I would pack a long poplin dress, ankle boots, and light jacket or jumper. You don’t see a lot of people walking around in shorts or strappy tops showing off too much skin."
With an altitude of over 7000 feet, the mountain climate is far from the vision of hot and humid beaches that most of us associate with Mexico. It means that it can get warm during the day but quite chilly at night, making layering a must. A hat is helpful to shield off the sun, says Villanti, which, again, due to elevation can be strong, and if you’re like her, an oversize button-down to wear with shorts, pants, over tanks, etc. is always suitcase-bound.
Who What Wear Travels Tip: Mexico is a walking city, Martinez de Salas insists, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes and help avoid traffic.
Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.