First appeared as “Material World” in the Octobr 2016 issue of Air Canada enRoute.
Walking through the main hall of Monumental Callao is a bit like strolling from the past into the future. The turn-of-the-20th-century shopping arcade in Lima’s Callao district recently opened after being restored to its former glory, complete with salmon-pink marble walls and soaring stained-glass archway. On my way to the rooftop terrace, I peer into the few storefronts yet to be filled, wondering what the rent would be in Manhattan for a perfectly patinaed space like this. But the neighbourhood artists and creatives who’ve already set up shop here don’t need to worry about price tags; the owner has invited many of them free of charge. In return, they’re helping to transform the busy seaport, considered unsafe by Limeños just a few years ago, into a thriving art and design destination. From the roof, I get a birds-eye view of sidewalk tamale sellers and a man swan-diving into the Pacific Ocean before asking passersby for a tip. It occurs to me that Callao is a microcosm of Lima: Leveraging this entrepreneurial spirit, the Peruvian capital is weaving a new future as a fashion design hub that may soon become as hot as the world-famous scene cooked up by the city’s chefs.