Panama, ‘Bridge of the World’

We toured the city dubbed ‘the Dubai of Latin America’ or ‘Little Miami’, in search of the best in Spanish fashion.

The Panama Canal marks a century in August 2014. For the past one hundred years, this work of engineering has allowed 30 to 40 ships a day to pass through its systems of locks to cross between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and it's certainly quite a spectacle to see. So too are its beaches bathed with turquoise waters, rainforests, gourmet coffee farms, and vibrant capital. Converted into a regional business hub thanks to its privileged position, Panama City is rich in contrasts. Its architecture ranges from traditional Old Town to towering skyscrapers and artsy buildings, such as the newly opened Museum of Biodiversity by Frank Gehry, the acclaimed Canadian architect’s only work in Latin America. It's an urban area where the popular hangouts are in harmony with hipster spots. Join us on a shopping hunt for Spanish fashion through this thrilling, trend-following Caribbean city.

Our first stop is at the luxurious Multiplaza Pacific Mall. The giant emporium Inditex has set up shop here with several brands. Its flagship brand Zara (also found at Albrook Mall) and their infallible formula of cheap and chic styles, the result of the inexhaustible imagination of a creative team more than 200 strong, is a hit with the Panamanians. The elegant, universal designs of Massimo Dutti also showcase here their wide range of fashion lines, from streetwear to more sophisticated looks. And for the youngest fashionistas, there’s Bershka.

In Multiplaza Pacific Mall we can also find Mango's modern and original designs for everyday wear for the whole family; ready-to-wear jewelery, handbags, and accessories from Tous; refined, timeless cuts by Adolfo Domínguez; romantic and feminine fashion and accessories by Trucco; and the contemporary yet affordable collections of underwear, homewear, and swimwear by the brand women’secret.

Next we headed to Punta Pacífica Boulevard to discover the fresh, elegant designs by Stradivarius, fun and sexy intimates by Oysho, and easy-going casualwear by Pull&Bear.

The Pili Carrera boutique in the Addison House Plaza shopping center offers smart styles for newborns, infants, girls, and boys, in addition to their complete line of cosmetic products.

Seeking the best in bridalwear, we checked out Rosa Clará, whose shop is inside the Victoria Plaza building in the Obarrio neighborhood of the Bellavista area. We admired the mikado silk, ottoman, and brocade details that transform dresses into veritable haute couture.

Obarrio is also home to the multi-brand boutique Baby Patisserie, which specializes in children’s apparel of the highest quality by Spanish designers. Here you can find outfits made exclusively for the most stylish kids by Conguitos, Fina Ejerique, Larrana, Kobez, Pilar Batanero and Paseos de Bebé. Baby Patisserie will soon be opening a second shop in Soho Mall and a third in Atrio Mall in 2015.

To cap off the day of shopping, we headed to the iconic Coca-Cola Café, the oldest in Panama City (1875), to enjoy its traditional dishes. We then strolled over to Old Town, the historical district designed in Spanish colonial style and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, for some drinks at Zaza, one of the trendiest Panamanian nightlife spots.