Cesar Arellano, the original street-fashion-party photoblogger in Mexico City, has died. Cesar was a crucial founding component of the scene. He was hard-working, generous, and supported emerging talents and faces on his website, Diario de Fiestas.
There's a lot of sadness and shock in the community in D.F. right now. The scene has lost its most respected and committed indie chronicler. The loss is enormous.
Last year Cesar redesigned and upgraded his site. It had started out three years earlier on the blogspot platform and immediately made an impact on the fashion community in Mexico, how it saw itself, and how it read in other parts of the world.
To honor Cesar's life and work, I'm re-publishing below the section of a chapter in the book where he is interviewed. Cesar will be missed.
From CHAPTER 4: FASHION & FASCIMILE:
"I was super shy at the beginning," the fashion blogger Cesar Arellano tells me over lunch one day in the Condesa. It is January 2008, a year after he launched his blog, Diario de Fiestas. Our conversation takes place in English, characteristic of the First World leanings within the Mexico City scenester community. Cesar has a lean face, darty eyes – good for quickly scanning a room – and a sneaky grin. He wears neckties and bowties and shiny wingtips, stuff like that.
The first post on the blog was titled "En el Cultural Roots," referring to an underground downtown club that caters to the Mexico City reggae scene. Cesar had gone to a "weird" art-rock show there. He posted just two images of the night: a shot of the backside of a girl in a pink vintage-looking dress dancing wildly, holding a microphone, and a shot of a person holding a microphone wearing an absurd sumo wrestler costume, a silver eye-mask, and a silver metallic wig.
"I took these photos in November," Arellano writes on his first post. "They introduce perfectly the tone that I'd like to frequent on this blog. … I don't remember the band, but to me they were brilliant."
Photos followed of parties at an underground club called El Patio de Mi Casa, then shots at an opening party for the Kurimanzutto gallery, then one of Cesar's outfits hanging on a door waiting for the night to begin ("Vintage Yale University sports coat, T-shirt by María Peligro, JBrand skinny jeans and plaid SB Jordan sneakers," he writes). More posts followed, like candids from debaucherous living-room birthday parties. March came around, and with it, a barrage of posts from Fashion Week. In short time, Arellano added links, mixing little blogs and big houses: I'll Be Your Mirror, Givenchy, Diary of a Third World Fashionista, Balenciaga, Love Naomi, Mexican Flamboyant, Prada. People started looking.
"I used to go a party and take ten pictures and that was it," Cesar says at lunch. "But they were my friends, and it was easy to take pictures of them. It was me and it was my close friends and that was it. Then three months later, everyone was looking at it. I don't know, one hundred people were looking at it. The same people who were going out every weekend."
The need to document was apparent. After spending some time apprenticing with a photographer in San Miguel de Allende, and freelancing for an established Mexico City fashion designer, Arellano began meeting young fashionistas who were re-settling in the capital and putting on parties. So many had spent time abroad, while many were foreigners themselves: Argentines, Venezuelans, and the Mexican-born but U.S.-raised. A loose phenomenon, many young Mexicans had soaked up Paris, London, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Barcelona and other world capitals in the early part of the 2000s. They returned to Mexico City around 2005 and 2006 with a refined global sensibility. Everyone was hungry to party – and to prove themselves.
"I felt there was a scene, you know, there was something happening," Arellano explains. "I felt it at Patio. I remember I was at a Zombies party, more than a year ago, and there was at least twenty people dressed amazingly, and the music was great, and the outfits were great." He pauses, as though it sounds so self-evident. "And the night was amazing."
Arellano kept posting. Viewers of Diario de Fiestas rapidly doubled many times over. By late 2007, it seemed every scenester in the city was logging on to the site, looking for shots of themselves from the night before, oogling at strangers, critiquing looks, looking for hints for the next spate of parties. From afar, fashion-conscious bloggers in other world capitals started taking notice, adding Diario de Fiestas to their link bars, to peek in and see what the cool kids of Mexico City were wearing on any given night.
Partying, it turned out, is work. For his entry documenting the María Peligro runway show and after-party, Cesar expresses some exhaustion with the world he is so faithfully recording. He writes: "At one moment in the night I got tired of the scene and the alcohol and eternally carrying around my camera. After a week, I'm recuperating from it. It must have been the overdose of runway shows and after-parties in October."
"God," he adds in English. "I'm so glad it is over."
Memorials online for Cesar can be found here, here, and here. El Universal is carrying news of Cesar's death in a report this morning, and quotes the photographer from a previous interview: "No puedo ser hipócrita. Hago lo que me gusta y estoy con quien quiero. Soy dueño de mi tiempo."
* Self-portrait by Cesar Arellano via DDF.