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.