Top by Zimmermann; skirt by Alice and Olivia; pendant by Dolce & Gabbana
fashion crowd…that it almost feels like Fashion Week”.
The industry’s love of the area is something Bonato and her partner Nico Malleville are largely responsible for: she co-owns a fashion line, Hacienda Montaecristo, which collaborates with the likes of J Crew; he is a sought-after model who has appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia with Linda Evangelista and in Burberry campaigns with Kate
Moss. The couple’s friends, too, aren’t your average: Jade Jagger was their first paying customer; since then they’ve hosted everyone from Mario Testino to Michelle Williams and Jared Leto.
But their journey was not quite as easy as it sounds. While Malleville fell in love with the Tulum coastline in 2001 – miles of brilliant white sand, rolling tides, exotic jungle, and, at night, clear, star-studded skies – what that
“[After the hurricane] we had four meters of sand in every room. Everything was gone”
meant in reality was purchasing a small plot of sand and pitching a tent while plans to build his new home developed. “Nico left New York after 9/11,” Bonato recounts. “He was just backpacking and found this paradise that was affordable and not too far from New York for his work. He had no phone but there was an internet café, and his agent was calling all the time trying to speak to him about campaigns,” she continues. “So the café guy would run for 45 minutes to get to [Nico], bang at the door and say, ‘Nicolas, you have a job, call your agent!’ Nico was like, ‘The campaign is tomorrow? Ok, I’ll get on the plane!’ That was his life for so many years.”
Bonato and Malleville met in 2003 in Tulum, and the Coqui Coqui property became their home until hurricane Claudette hit the peninsula in 2003. Though Malleville boarded up the building, the sea enveloped it. “Every [piece of] glass and every door exploded; we had four meters
of sand in every room. Everything was gone.” They rebuilt it, but when hurricane Dean hit the coast in 2007, Coqui Coqui was taken out again by a tidal wave.
Despite this, the couple’s belief in their home, the area and their business never wavered. The Mexican army evacuated them during the first hurricane to Valladolid in the hills, and it was there that they bought their second home and expanded their property
Kaftan by Talitha; skirt (worn as dress) by Raquel Allegra; pendant
by Dolce & Gabbana; bracelets by Maria Black; cuff by Chloécredits
Photograph: Mario Testino