I’d never been to Santa Fe, or New Mexico for that matter. I wanted desert for the DVF shoot – you will see why when the Pre-Fall collection drops – but I didn’t want just brown rocks and sand. I needed structures and textures and mysterious landscapes, some place unusual and ethnically ambivalent. When we found the Pueblo in Taos, all the pieces fell into place. You’re never quite sure what continent you’re in – honestly, it could be Africa – and the colors are insane.
We spent about six days in Santa Fe. The weather wasn’t spectacular; the locals told us Spring Break is actually not the best time to visit. The blossoms aren’t out yet and it’s still too cold and rainy for anything good to happen. Come April things start looking up. But we did get two pre-eminently warm and clear days, miraculously both when we were shooting. The Southwestern gods were agreeable.
The area around Santa Fe is breathtaking. It seems untouched somehow, like the pioneers must have found it when they got here. If it wasn’t for the cars, neon signs and decrepit little mini-malls, New Mexico might be the last frontier. All you need is to just drive to places like the Red Rocks, Ghost Ranch or the Rio Grande bridge to get an idea of its incredible magnitude and power. From sunrise to sunset the views keep morphing into shapes and colors, completely foreign to anything you’ve experienced. You can be driving above the clouds in the morning, and under a star-lit orange sky by nightfall.
As far as the sights go, they are endless. Santa Fe itself is super cute and offers an overload of Southwestern gear. To all those people who went to Coachella, rocking their fringe: wake up and smell the roses. This is serious. Even if you will never wear them again, you must buy a cowboy hat and a pair of boots. It’s not even a rule; you won’t be able to say no. It’s so easy to succumb to the fashions of the wrangler. And there’s tons of vintage too, so if you’re not hiking or visiting the hot springs or eating at one of the amazing restaurants or receiving bee venom therapy, you must shop!
My favorite places in Santa Fe:
Back at the Ranch: custom made cowboy boots by Wendy Henry, my new BFF
Double Take: massive vintage store, with stock ranging from thrift to traditional Southwestern
Casa Nova Gallery: arts, crafts and designs from South Africa
Cafe Pasqual’s: best restaurant in town
Nathalie: all things Southwestern, from furniture to soaps
The Inn of the Five Graces: not the cheapest, but definitely the most enchanting hotel in Santa Fe
Hotel Santa Fe: when you’re on a budget but still want the real deal experience