On Location: Buenos Aires

BA_opener by Meredith Fisher
On the surface, the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo Soho bears a striking resemblance to its New York and London counterparts. This newly fashionable quadrant is your typical gentrification story. It began as mostly a working-class neighborhood, cheap rents attracted the artists; then came the cool restaurants, and the fashion designers soon followed. But beneath the ever-expanding roster of boutiques, the sidewalk cafes, and the trendy eateries, beats a distinctively South American heart, one that has turned this area into the destination for both cutting-edge designers and traditional artisans.
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Here are a few spots not to be missed:
La Martina, Costa Rica 4677, +54 1 4311 5963, www.lamartina.com
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This 100-year-old supplier for Argentina's polo teams has created a casual line for those who prefer wearing horses to riding them. A small courtyard leads to the store located on a side street in a converted 1900s residence. While the décor is a direct reference to the game with vintage riding boots and saddles, the merchandise has a thoroughly modern feel. Polos and classic T-shirts with limited-edition crests hang from the ceilings and line the worn wooden shelves, while casual khakis and jeans are draped throughout. Divided into a women's living room, a men's hall, and a main hall, each section, though eclectic, is true to the casual, chic spirit of the brand. The history of the La Martina team is present everywhere, but the clothing works well both on and off the field.
Anahi M, Uriarte 1490, +54 1 4834 6005, www.anahi-m.com.ar
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Born and raised in the leather-making industry, Anahi M has been crafting bags since she was a young girl. Her history also afforded her direct contacts to the main tanneries in Argentina, and it shows in the quality of the leathers she uses for her bags and other accessories. Her top-closed doctor's bag is both structured and loose at the same time in either an oblong or oversized square shape. The suede fanny pack (yes, a fanny pack!) is surprisingly chic, as is the wristlet adorned with a chunky buckle in shades from rich brown to hot orange. Anahi M also combines leathers with other natural fabrics, ranging from Bolivian textiles to crushed velvet.
Maria Cher, El Salvador 4724, +54 1 4833 4736, www.maria-cher.com.ar
Though Maria Chernajovsky studied fashion design at England's Central Saint Martins, she returned to her native Buenos Aires to launch her first collection in 2001. Now, five years later she has two independent stores, one in the Paseo Alcorta shopping mall and this one in the heart of Palermo Soho. The industrial store is a sharp contrast to her feminine separates, but her edge is apparent in the
bold shapes and patterns that dotted her spring/summer '06 collection. Shirts in black-and-white zebra prints are paired with mini black shorts, while an orange and brown floral wrap dress is reminiscent of Marni's finest. In fact, much of her fall/winter collection also makes reference to this Italian fashion house and is the perfect spot to find extra layers for your layers.
Felix, Godoy Cruz 1645, +54 1 4833 5262, www.felixba.com.ar
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On the hunt for some golf-inspired preppy clothes tinged with a bit of South American flair? Try Felix, possibly the one-stop shop for indulging the inner Upper East Sider in every guy, with gingham shorts, wonderful patterned shirts, and boat shoes. Fall is heavy on blazers and solids as well as leather pieces. Felix is not only one of a kind for Buenos Aires, but rather unique universally, especially considering the exceptional quality and how affordable the garments are. For guys only.
The short list.
Maria Aversa, El Salvador 4580, +54 1 4833 0073—for hand-knit sweaters and crocheted dresses. www.mariaaversa.com.ar
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DelaOstia, El Salvador 4625, +54 1 4833 3468—cutting-edge tops and structured jackets.
Sabater Hermanos, Gurruchaga 1821, +54 1 4833 3004—handmade soaps in every shape and scent.
Sybyl Vane, Armenia 1670, +54 1 4833 3409—Leathery sandals and strappy high heels.
Dine. Drink.
Mott, El Salvador 4685, +54 1 4833 4306
Mott is a fitting name for a spot that reminds us of a lofty Soho space. Super high ceilings and a white on dark wood interior is less friendly than the actual food. Basic salads and sandwiches are served at tables with wicker chairs or on loungey banquettes that open onto the street.
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Casa Cruz, Uriarte 1658, +54 4833 1112
You'll know it by the huge bronze doors outside (not by the sign, because there isn't one). This cavernous restaurant is also one of the cities chicest, the place for beautiful people and equally beautiful food. The changing menu is as eclectic as the crowd and has its hits and misses, but you're here for more than just the food.
Olsen, Gorriti 5870, +54 1 4776-7677
A good option for lunch, dinner, drinks, or a Sunday brunch, Olsen brings a bit of Scandinavia to Argentina. The décor makes use of pale wood and minimalist features, while the menu focuses on fish, including Nordic classics like smoked salmon and herring. As for drinks, vodka is the only way to go.
The neighborhood of Palermo Soho may be heating up, but it's still got plenty of South American soul.
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