By Chere Di Boscio
There’s much to be passionate about in Mexico: pristine natural forests and beaches, mouth-watering cuisine and heartfelt boleros.
But Hacienda Montaecristo owners Francesca Bonato and Jacopo Janniello Ravagnan are most passionate about Mexico’s flea markets, antiquities, and listening to the stories of the people who live in this fascinating nation.
In fact, their passions were so strong, they forced Francesca to leave her native Milan during her University years and Jacopo, who was journeying through South America at the time, decided to settle in Mexico too. Today, the friends live in the Yucatan area of Mexico, where they set up their fashion business, Hacienda Montaecristo, in 2007.
The origins of the business are intriguing: once, when the duo were travelling around the Yucatan Peninsula on an old Ford, they were caught in a storm and sought shelter in an abandoned building nearby which, they discovered later, used to be a large fabric producing factory in the late 60’s. They took this as a sign–they were destined to launch a new fashion label, using fabric produced in that very factory.
They believed that their brand, Hacienda Montaecristo, should be deeply rooted in the economic and social fabric of Yucatan, just as the old Haciendas were, a place were people would gather, working together on common projects, in a collaborative way; where the young could learn from the elderly, and where artisanal skills and craftsmanship would be passed down through generations.
There was only one problem: the loom to make the region’s most exquisite fabric, a delicately woven textile called Rebozo, was broken. So Francesca and Jacopo set about to fix it, and today they are the region’s key producers of Rebozo.
They’ve incorporated the unique material into bags, shawls, and even shoes, but have also employed local artisans to apply their ancient skills to make organic cotton clothing, ethical jewellery and artisanal leather accessories. Good ethics are particularly important to Francesca, who now also co-owns the ecochic Coqui Coqui hotel chain and perfume brand.
Featured in prestigious publications including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and the New York Times, Hacienda Montaecristo has become a favourite with celebrities and fashionistas alike. With the revival of these handicraft techniques applied to the loose, eternally chic designs created by Francesca and Jacopo, Hacienda Montaecristo just gave us all something else to be passionate about in Mexico.
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