From near indecent hemlines to the fringe and bling that I have seen on the runway and in Hollywood movies, I have observed a marked renewal of interest in the fashion and lifestyle of the 1920's. A conscious effort is made to honor vintage inspiration while creating a modern twist on the old fashion or style.
However, not just anyone can pull this off and that is why I was pleasantly surprised to find a place that managed to combine both modern tastes and vintage design sensibilities so seamlessly.
Guevarra's in San Juan was a delightful place to explore – even though I got weird looks from people who were wondering why I was wandering around the place without a plate in hand.
The twenties in recent pop culture
Movies such as the Great Gatsby, portraying the excesses of what was known as the Roaring Twenties have only served to fuel the fire of revivalist fad-seekers. Even more mainstream (and more recently-written) hits like the Twilight Series feature elements of the 1920s as evidenced by the constant reminder of the lead hottie, Edward Cullen, being turned in 1918 – which, if you look at time in terms of art periods, means he was experiencing the tail end of the Art Nouveau period and the gradual rise of Art Deco.
Here what inside the Casa Guevarra.
A brief background on Art Deco and Art Nouveau in the 1920s (and 1940s)
The Art Nouveau period was all sinuous lines and natural inspirations – while Art Deco took on a more industrial, linear facade that did away with the “old”. The Age of Industrialization gave birth to gems of architecture such as the Chrysler building and, a little closer to home, buildings like the Manila Metropolitan Theater.
The Manila Metropolitan Theater was built in 1935 but don't be confused about the dates not neatly matching up with the rise of Art Deco – keep in mind that technology and information were not as easily shared, re-blogged or re-tweeted back then.
The 1920s was a marriage of the craftsmanship and material excess of the previous periods with the technological and scientific breakthroughs that came with the age of the machines.
It's no wonder that most homes inspired by or built during this period have such contrasting influences – the linear look of typical Art Deco architecture and design with the curves and natural motifs of Art Nouveau constrained within.
Guevarra's - a place full of history, a place captured in time
If you're looking for a place that captures that feeling of affluence and old-world charm – look no further than Guevarra's in San Juan. Located on P. Guevarra street, the converted 1940's home used to house a spa in the basement but the whole space is now taken up by Chef Laudico's newest venture into haute Filipino cuisine – buffet style.
Guevarra's is a typical 1940's Filipino home – we can see evidence of both Chinese and Spanish influence in its architecture and interior design. The current owners decided to whitewash the walls to bring out the beauty of the details that were left bare – from the symmetrical wood paneling to the prominent wooden arch decorated with sinuous, riotous vines.
The huge and literally “picture” windows feature images of former senator, Pedro Guevarra, the restaurant's namesake. I hear that it's kind of creepy at night with the light shining from within, but I went during the day and it was fun to spot little details in the images that hold true up to this day – like how people still love taking group pictures (although at that time it was a necessity since cameras and film were so expensive) and the token “political handshake” photo is not just something we came up with in our shutter-crazy frenzy.
A place for making memories.
Whether you're looking for a place to host a wedding, small meeting, debut, birthday party – or really, just any other kind of event that involves a lot of food and a lot of people – why not consider Guevarra's?
Not only will you walk away with a full belly – you will also have a beautiful backdrop for your photo memories, a “must” in this Insta-everything day and age.