‘Concept boutique’ has become a buzzword on the Buenos Aires shopping scene in the last few years as shop owners, brands and designers strive to distinguish their products from the rest and add something extra to the shopping experience. From old colonial mansions to cutting-edge department stores, Sophie Lloyd features some of her favourite concept shops in the city: The best of Argentina’s emerging design scene.
Let’s face it: Most men hate to shop. But La Restinga will charm even the most resistant of male shoppers. Previously receiving customers by appointment only in a showroom tucked away in a Palermo apartment building, they’ve just upgraded to a beautifully renovated 1930s Palermo house (previously an art gallery). Knock on the unmarked door and be welcomed in by the brand’s attractive team of assistants who will offer you a choice of beer, the finest whisky or some bubbles to quench your thirst from their own fully-stocked bar (regardless of the time of day). The grandiose space feels like a gentleman’s club, outfitted with grandiose chandeliers, antique leather-covered couches , not forgetting the giant tree in the corner that’s been chopped and artistically reassembled, and extends through to the floor above. The label’s collection of exclusive threads crafted from the finest Italian fabrics includes soft angora wool sweaters, fitted cotton and linen shirts, sports jackets and suits, and the quintessential gentlemen’s accessories. Take your time to browse, stepping behind dramatic floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains to try on garments, and then take a break to finish your drink and perhaps enjoy a fine Cuban cigar seated under the grape vines on the terrace. For men that take their wardrobe very seriously, there’s also a bespoke tailor service available upstairs.
Opens February 18, Niceto Vega 5181, Palermo.
Originally built as a lavish gift from one wealthy Buenos Aires man to his wife in the 1920s, Casa Cavia is the mansion of every girl’s dreams, from its elegant façade to the intricate design details within, all conceived by Norwegian architect and artist Alejandro Christophersen. In 2014, the colonial gem was transformed into an exclusive lifestyle hub, combining, dining, shopping and literature, while retaining the building’s original charm. Walk down the tiled corridor from the main door and you enter a stunning patio where you can enjoy a spot of lunch next to the pond (the restaurant is headed by local chef Pablo Massey) or a fruity cocktail at the outdoor bar. On the far side of the patio sits Fueguia boutique, whose exotic, unisex scents, concocted in their local perfume laboratory, are inspired by the explorers and naturalists of South America. The scents come in the form of eau de parfum, scented candles, diffusers and body creams.
Next door sits upscale florists Flores Pasión who take a very artistic approach to flower arranging. Inside the main house, you can leaf through the library of books available for your reading pleasure over afternoon tea (look up and you’ll see more books hanging from the ceiling). There’s also a section of books for sale, specially selected by Ampersand Publishers, who have their headquarters upstairs.
Cavia 2985, Palermo Chico.
The newly-opened Editor Market is a breath of fresh air on the Buenos Aires shopping scene. A cut above your average department store, its creative interiors, slick selection of products, and punchy slogans leave their mark on every visitor. The idea was conceived by María Cherñajovsky (the brains behind Argentine brands Maria Cher and Ay Not Dead) and her husband Gabriel Brenner to showcase the best of Argentina’s emerging design scene. The new chain of stores offers everything you need for your wardrobe, home and lifestyle, not forgetting the kids, and presents it all in a very hip, artistic way. There’s also an in-house cafe serving up a good cup of coffee and some homemade treats.
There are now two locations in the city, one downtown that occupies 9 floors of a 1940s art-deco building and the other in a converted warehouse in Palermo Hollywood, with more branches scheduled to open around the rest of the country in the next three years. The womenswear sections feature pieces from contemporary names such as Naomi, Cabinet Oseo, Juan Hernandez Daels, Jardiz and Nous, to name a few, while menswear highlights include the handmade leather statement shoes by Terrible Enfant and the fun printed shirts of Silvio Sierra.
Avenida Dorrego 2133 and Avenida Corrientes 503.
This stylish little boutique is an old favourite on the Palermo Soho shopping circuit. The light, airy space is beautifully laid out and every piece on display is handmade by a local artist or designer, and selected by owner and jewelry designer Laura Patrōn Costas, who wants to provide support and exposure to local designers, artists and artisans. The collection features contemporary jewelry crafted from a range of materials, handmade ceramics and some pieces from artisans from the Wichí community.
If you see a particular designer you like, ask the staff and they will bring out more pieces by the same designer to show you. Downstairs, they have a gallery space where they host around three pop-up exhibitions a year, inviting local artists to exhibit their work under different themes.
Malabia 1644, Palermo.
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