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August 23 2014

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Designer Diary: Maria Cornejo’s Postcard From Chile

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Dairy InstertDesigner Maria Cornejo was only 11 years old when she and her family left Chile for Manchester, U.K. Now based in New York, Cornejo had not been back to her hometown for thirteen years. So when the country’s oldest newspaper, El Mercurio, invited her back to show her Spring ’14 collection, she jumped at the chance to visit. Here, the designer shares the details of her trip exclusively with Style.com.

Maria Cornejo

I was invited to present my Spring ’14 collection in Santiago, Chile, by the newspaper El Mercurio to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their magazine Revista YA. Having not been back to the country where I was born since I was a child, I jumped on the opportunity. Many of my relatives still live down there and it was a chance to come back with my two brothers, Rodrigo and George, and our sister, Rosa.

Chile has changed so much over the last few years and even more so from when I left as a young child. They have a thriving new economy, an emerging art scene, gorgeous parks, and can boast the tallest skyscraper in South America. As you can imagine, I was kept quite busy prepping for the show; however, there was some free time to sneak in a couple of sightseeing adventures with my team. The real attraction in Chile is its incredible nature. You can be at the beach, then the mountains, then the desert all in one day. In all, it was a very emotional but inspiring and grounding trip. Chile will always have my heart.

Printing Press

We arrived in Santiago and immediately went into castings at the headquarters of El Mercurio (our generous hosts for the week). It was a long day, but the room had views of their gardens outside and of their original printing press. El Mercurio is the oldest newspaper in Latin America and this amazing machine is their first machine.

The view from the top of Cerro San Cristobal

We had the morning free so we decided to climb to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal to check out the amazing views of the city. This cerro (meaning “hill”) is the second highest point in Santiago.

El Mercado Central

Checking out El Mercado Central for fresh seafood. I ate one of the best crabs I’ve ever had there!

The coastal town of Valparaiso

Sunday we had the day off, which gave me a chance to explore the coastlines of Chile. This is in the coastal town of Valparaiso on top of Cerro Alegre. All the houses are painted in bright colors!

Maria and her brother, Rod

My brother, Rod, and I snapping inspiration shots on the beach at El Tabo, where my aunts have a house.

The beach near Pablo Neruda 's house

Pablo Neruda was a famous Chilean poet, politician, and diplomat. One of his houses is located on the coast at Isla Negra. After we went to see it, we checked out the beach, which had enormous rocks and beautiful green nature in the background.

The tent for Maria Cornejo's show in Chile

We showed up the day of the show to see our enormous tent being set up!

Maria Cornejo's runway show in Chile

After all the hard work, I was very pleased with the runway show.

Photos: Courtesy of Maria Cornejo

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