A Journey of Desire and Longing in Mexico's Oaxacan Coast

A Journey of Desire and Longing in Mexico's Oaxacan Coast

Story by Ana Escalante / Photography by David Mesa / Styling by Essel Aidoo

The act of returning to one’s roots has always been romanticized in fiction. We’ve all dreamt about it: we’re older, wiser, better dressed, and traveling back to the comforting people and places untainted by a harsh world. For many, it’s a main character moment to say the least.

With that in mind, photographer David Mesa sought out to document his own journey of self-discovery and youthful yearning — complete with oversized sunglasses, printed speedos and baggy jorts courtesy of Mexican label Barragán.

Te deseo cuando más lejos estás, as the editorial is called, translates to wanting a lover the most when they’re furthest away. Set amongst the vibrant background of the Oaxacan coast in southwestern Mexico, we find ourselves transported to a nostalgic world we’ve all longed to return to at one point or another.

Mesa explains that while the story revolves around desire and longing, at the end of the day, is anyone truly happy gazing back into the past to seek everything they want?

The collaborative process between Mesa and stylist Essel Aidoo heavily revolved around drawing from their own childhoods outside of the United States — ones often simple in nature, but rich in experience. To capture the quintessential essence of coming-of-age, Oaxaca’s quaint, seaside towns were ideal.

“Every aspect of this story was inspired and fueled by the setting and warmness of the locals in Oaxaca,” Mesa tells PAPER. “The beauty of it's rawness and simplicity was very reminiscent of our childhoods both in Colombia and Ghana. Life there moves at a pace from decades ago, which was a very refreshing escape from life in NYC and Barcelona post-pandemic.”

The duo relied on pieces from Barragán’s Spring 2021 collection, which honored the namesake’s Mexican roots with structural nods to ancient pyramids and square-toed boots worn by street-clowns and rancheros. The queer designer has made a lasting impact on fashion, twisting tradition and culture with genderless elements and skimpy cutouts to reflect the nature of an evolving, forward-thinking generation rising out of Latin America.

“I wanted the styling to reflect the colors, beauty and distinct aesthetic of the things that caught my eye while roaming the streets and enjoying the beaches,” Mesa said.

Itty-bitty printed speedos and chrome pants proudly fill the spaces in Mesa and Aidoo’s world. Whether on (or off!) model Julian Camilo, the viewer steps into a vibrant, technicolor world.

Photography: David Mesa
Styling: Essel Aidoo
Model: Julian Camilo