A grand passion for Mexico over the course of her life has led Marjorie Skouras to Merida to fulfill her dream, and to open the boutique La Malaquita, which has become the home for her collection of Mexican clothing dating from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. The focus of the collection are the spectacular dresses that date primarily from the early 1960’s through the mid 1970’s.
These dresses originated from a small group of women designers in the 1960’s whose work was inspired by the indigenous peoples, nature and art of Mexico. The production was done using local artisans and traditional techniques, creating a “Neo-Mexican” style. The cotton fabric that was used was primarily sourced in Mexico City, with both local and imported dyes being used. Embroidery and ribbon art were also incorporated into many of the designs, and several designers favored wood and metal adornments as well.
The dresses soon reached the resort towns of Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Mazatlán. In 1963, Elizabeth Taylor was in Puerto Vallarta with Richard Burton, who was starring in Night of the Iguana, which was being filmed there, and she happened upon a small house belonging to the designer Josefa, who was displaying her creations from the branches of a tree in front. She and the crew that had accompanied her, bought all of the dresses, and she began to wear them in Los Angeles upon her return, where they garnered much attention.
She was a loyal patron of Josefa’s throughout the next decade, and many of her friends followed suit, including Princess Grace, Diana Ross, Sophia Loren, Loretta Young, Nancy Reagan, Deborah Kerr, Ladybird Johnson, Princess Anne and Farah Diba. The trend soon caught on not only at the high-end retailers in the United States, but in England, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Denmark as well.
There were many designers who made fantastic contributions to this short-lived aesthetic moment, including Mama Carlota, Vercellino, Girasol, Gonzalo Bauer, Tachi Castillo, Victor Camarena, Diana Martin, Yolanda, and many workshops in Tlaquepaque as well. This particular style of dress died off as the 1970’s neared their end, but many pieces were lovingly kept and preserved in closets around the world, souvenirs of a moment in time representing the glamour and artistic whirlwind at that moment in Mexico.
La Malaquita’s collection of nearly 250 pieces represents all of these designers and many more, with many of the pieces never having been worn. It is a personal collection, representing the joy and vibrancy of Mexican art that has influenced much of Marjorie’s design work. It is with immense pleasure that we are now able to share this passion with you – we hope you enjoy the ride as much as I have in the years of collecting.