We did a double-take. Looked at each other. Backed up a few steps. And smiled.
There, on the corner of the main square, was what appeared to be a dress shop. Not the kind of dress shop you might expect to find in this part of the world...but one you might seek out in London...or maybe New York. Tasteful displays behind glass on either side of a grand entrance. Two women with a little time to kill before our lunch meeting...of course we went inside.
And we had to remind ourselves where we were. Here in Granada, Nicaragua, was a quiet, dark-wood, high-ceilinged, air-conditioned shop with hand-carved wooden cabinets bearing beautiful displays of dresses, suits, blouses...jewelry, hats, bags, sandals...
And this wasn't the best of it. A doorway to the right led to a separate room...where the designer was in residence...waiting to make any woman's bespoke dreams come true.
How much for a suit, I asked. Something simple, copied from a book...maybe $35 or $40. Something more special, designed for you, in one of the shop's finest fabrics...maybe $100 or $110.
The designer, Martha Amaya, is Nicaraguan. She studied and worked in London...then decided she'd like to come home. She opened her shop in Granada six months ago, and business, her staff assured me, is booming. When they opened, they could turn around a dress or a suit in a couple of days. Today you might have to wait two weeks or longer. Only one fitting is required, though you can arrange more if you like.
I have a photo of a suit that I clipped from an issue of Vogue months ago. I saved it I don't know why...but now I have a plan. When next I return to Nicaragua, I'll bring the photo for Martha. I've already chosen the linen fabric.
Publisher, International Living
P.S. The name of the shop is Martha Amaya Fashions. You'll find it in the Casa de los Tres Mundos, on the corner of the square. A girl in the shop told me that if I don't want to wait until I return to have Martha start on my new suit, I could fax the photo to her. Tel./fax + 505 552-5274.