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This article & more photos can be found in Issue 2 (p40) of Vhcle Magazine.
Old to new & new to old


I’m going to write the Sartorialist and tell him of street fashion’s best kept secret. A city where he can snap photos on any corner and find a gem. The city often referred to as the “Paris of the South”, Buenos Aires has become a vivacious place for fashion and expression in South America. It is here where I had the pleasure of taking my first trip out of the country and here where I discovered a city that has not only preserved their history and rich culture, but also inspires expression through fashion. Buenos Aires is the largest city in Argentina and has become an affordable hotspot for young travelers. Buenos Aires’s political past, well-preserved architecture and strong sense of culture expressed through food, fashion and art makes for a simply divine adventure. Fashionable walking shoes are a must! You will be shopping your little heart out. 

”Porteños”, the people of Buenos Aires, crowd the busy streets and do so with style and class. Women look so perfectly imperfect – leggings with oversized shirts, well-crafted leather boots, jackets and purses, long flowing sweaters and hair gently tousled. Men dress to impress in tailored suits, sweaters, and jeans. They are not afraid to wear accessories – leather satchels, bracelets and scarves adorn these attractive gentlemen. Streets are lined with boutiques, all are very unique and boast a personality of their own. Specifically, the areas of Palermo Soho and Palermo Viejo offer some of the most amazing fashion, bars, restaurants and art galleries. Shops filled with character are nestled in old buildings and homes. Grand doors set the mood as you enter, and shops are inspired by vintage and modern flare. It’s hard to say what was more thrilling – trying on the exquisite clothing or looking at the decor of each boutique. 

While there are so many different boutiques to describe, I will share with you a few that were among the favorites: two new and one old. The walls of Bolivia, a popular men’s boutique, are filled with vintage watches, clocks, chandeliers and collectables as the Velvet Underground dances in the air. Here you will find pea coats, motorcycle jackets, and a wide variety of colorful collared shirts – shy men beware, you must be bold here for the Bolivia man isn’t afraid of patterns; plaid, gingham check, flowers and boldly colored pinstripes are all the rage. Across the street Chocolate, a boutique for women, offers comfortable yet sexy avant-garde selections of well-tailored dresses, trench coats and fabulous accessories. While there are now stores around the world, Buenos Aires is the location of the head office and where all designs are created. White walls and teak floors let the clothing speak for themselves like art in a gallery. 

While new designers and boutiques flourish in Buenos Aires, there is still a passion for vintage, something that I was incredibly grateful for – vintage makes my heart swoon. Just to be near it, look at it, and touch it is an honor and conjures up wonders of what the people who previously owned them were like – a fairytale if you will. So you can imagine my delight when I visited a vintage store located in the antique mecca of Buenos Aires – San Telmo, a part of town that hosts an open air flea market every Sunday and is lined with stores whose selection of antiques is like no other. My travel book suggested that I visit a boutique called Gil Antiguedades. The window display was filled with old trunks, lace gloves and Victorian dresses. I had no idea that what I was about to enter would be one of the most amazing experiences of my trip: a flashback to flappers, Humphrey Bogart, Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn and June Cleaver. 

The owner, Maria Ines Gil, buzzed us in and I immediately knew I was in for a magical experience. The main floor was filled with feather pins, riding boots, bakelite jewelry and home collectables. An old spiral staircase took us upstairs where woven ponchos from the pampas, silk napkins and tablecloths from Italian and German immigrants and Spanish lace all lived happily together. But what happened next was something that I will be forever grateful for. Maria suggested I take a trip to the bottom floor. As I walked down the stairs, I was stopped dead in my tracks by what lay before me – the most impeccable vintage collection of everything you could dream of. My eyes swelled with tears of joy as a vintage fashion show beckoned me to come and play. Rows and rows of vintage dresses, suits, fedoras, gloves, silk scarves, fur, crocodile purses, lace undergarments, tweed ties… oh I could keep going. She carefully preserved each and every item in garment bags and glass cases. Vintage YSL, Chanel and Dior all lived happily in her shop. 

Maria tirelessly explained the history behind everything I touched, and even graciously let me try on a wedding dress from the 1920s, just for fun. Catherine Deneuve and Ferragamo have graced the aisles, even Karl Lagerfeld just a week earlier. Her store has become a place of inspiration for today’s top designers because she has carefully preserved every era. She flipped through magazines showing how the fashions in the photographs were right in front of me. Vintage clothing is very dear to me because there is a story behind it. Maria said that many of the items she collected were from Italian, Spanish and German immigrants who came to Buenos Aires in the 1920s. 

Old to new and new to old, fashion is a circle and open for interpretation.  I can imagine that Argentines and their designers find inspiration in this vibrant city: incredible and well-preserved architecture, cutting-edge restaurants and a passionate culture can all be seen in the fashions of Porteños. 

2010: Old to New & New to Old
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