Buenos Aires Shopping
Tel: 54 11 4778 0050
Aiming to provide well-crafted women's accessories for every moment between breakfast and bed, this delightful store is cluttered with limited-edition velvet-and-satin slippers, psychedelic espadrilles, raffia handbags, and patent leather boots, each styled by leading Argentine designers such as Celedonio Lohidoy or Laura Valenzuela. It also stocks quirky design items for house, garden, or weekends in the country and—unusually for a Buenos Aires business—sells online and can mail items anywhere in the world.—By Colin Barraclough
4656 El Salvador
Tel: 54 11 4832 0516
Leading light among a new wave of Argentine artisans inspired by the country's indigenous heritage, Ricardo Paz limits his materials to leather, wool, wood, and stone, the only natural resources available in northwest Argentina's remote montane forests. Using natural-fall hardwoods from the region's subtropical dry forest, Paz creates iconic items such as asymmetric dinner chairs of quebracho and untanned leather, it¿n-wood banquettes, and 12-foot coffee tables carved from 300-year-old algaroba trunks. Naively worked villagers' cupboards, window frames, and beds, discarded by their unnamed creators but held up by Paz as works of art, sit alongside traditionally woven textiles inspired by Andean and Amazon tribal heritage.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm.
Tel: 54 11 4833.6857
From the Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones vinyl LPs on the turquoise-painted walls to the frayed Persian rugs scattered on its wooden floor, Bensimon's signature store in Palermo is aimed squarely at the young (and well-heeled) porteño about town. Soft cotton shirts in any number of spots, stripes, and psychedelic swirls sit alongside velvet smoking jackets with sewn-in kaffiyehs, leather-and-fleece sports coats, and cool cotton sweaters designed for the sultry B.A. summer. Bensimon also outfits the staff at some of the city's coolest bars.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 8:30 pm, Sundays 2 pm to 8:30 pm.
Tel: 54 11 5777 6000
The two levels of this winding shopping arcade, wedged between the Recoleta Cemetery and the Hard Rock Cafe Buenos Aires, are solely dedicated to design and decor. Buenos Aires Design includes the popular Morph, which specializes in mod office chairs and whimsical stuff like tape dispensers in the shape of frogs, and cabinet maker Eugenio Aguirre, who creates distinctively Argentine beds, dining tables, and cupboards from cedar, teak, and oak.
Tel: 54 11 4803 7598
This jewelry and accessory designer's rise to prominence has been meteoric. Drawing heavily on nature and wildlife—themes inspired by an upbringing in rural Argentina—Lohidoy nevertheless resists cuteness and sentimentality. He applies his fertile, even macabre, imagination to interweave scarab beetles, butterflies, and spiderwebs with pearls, crystal, and gems from northern Argentina, creating unique rings and necklaces.—Colin Barraclough
Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 8 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 2 pm.
1239 Arenales, Suite 3M
Tel: 54 11 4815 5690
"So many shoes, so little time," says the cutesy woolen sign inside this Recoleta den dedicated exclusively to tango shoes. There's nothing cutesy about the footwear created by Alicia Muñiz and partner Raquel Coltrinari, however: Each sexy creation sports three-inch heels, velvet edging, or uppers of filmy silk and patterned lamé. Clients perch on a leopard-skin sofa or a Louis XV-style chaise longue, basking under rose-tinted spotlights, while Muñiz and Coltrinari bring in dozens of their designs, each more vibrant and sensual than the last. Within minutes, the floor is littered with mountains of suede, silk and leather, lace tassels, and blood-red ribbonsso attractive that most clients leave with several pairs.
Open Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 7 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm.
1860 Sante Fe
Tel: 54 11 4811 6104
The original El Ateneo at Calle Florida 340 is one of B.A.'s most beloved librerías (bookstores). But this outpost on Avenida Santa Fe must be seen to be believed. It's a browser's paradise (titles come in several languages), housed in an enormous, ornate 1919 theater (check out the towering ceilings, carvings, and preserved box seats), where Carlos Gardel was once among the marquee performers. These days, a café occupies the old stage.
Open Mondays through Thursdays 9 am to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 9 am to midnight, Sundays noon to 10 pm.
Tel: 54 11 4832 2994
This funky men's boutique—with Persian rugs flung over its hardwood floors, The Polyphonic Spree or The Jam blaring from the stereo, and mellow dudes manning the register—feels a little like rock 'n' roll prep school: There are rainbow-colored Shetland sweaters, chunky renditions of collegiate scarves, stripy tees, and the occasional ascot or floral-patterned pair of Nikes.
Tel: 54 11 4361 2315
Argentina is replete with 20th-century furniture, lighting, and interior accessories either imported or manufactured locally during the country's golden years. The Galería Sergio Guevara, one of 300 antiques stores clustered around the cobbled streets of San Telmo, stands out for its impressive collection of signed Art Deco and Art Nouveau pieces. Fabulous chandeliers of smoked, fluted glass illuminate acid-etched French-made vases, Jean-Michel Frank armchairs, and 19th-century bronze sculpture from the Barbedienne foundry. Sought-after catalog items fetch international prices, but dealers still flock from Europe and North America for mint-condition Jules Leleu secrétaires, Paul Follot cabinets, or the unmistakable pewterwork of Germany's Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik.
Open Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.
Florida (at Avenida C¿rdoba)
Tel: 54 11 5555 5100
The enormous Beaux Arts shopping center known as Galerías Pacífico is more than just a mall or the highlight of the bustling Calle Florida: It's an Argentine historic monument, built in the 1890s as Buenos Aires's answer to Bon Marché in Paris. Lined with the likes of Lacoste, Polo, and Adidas (as well as Havanna, specializing in alfajores, the dulce de leche sandwich cookies that are Argentina's preferred teatime snack), this gilded palace of retail also hosts the Centro Cultural Borges and a wonderful series of painted murals.
1886 Rodríguez Peña
Tel: 54 11 4816 3975
Just down the street from the Alvear Palace Hotel, Grand Cru is the toniest wine merchant in the toniest barrio of Buenos Aires. The atmosphere here is low-key and welcoming, and the personalized service—the attendant on duty fits you with a wine the way a bespoke tailor sizes up your inseam—is impeccable. The selection features the best Cabs and Malbecs from Argentina (from a Noemía 2008 Malbec from Patagonia for $140 to a Doña Paula Estate Cabernet 2009 for $15) and expertly chosen imports from Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Open Mondays through Saturdays.
Tel: 54 11 4115 6820
It's easy to spot a new customer at this extravagant women's accessories shop: Even the most fashion-averse judder to a halt within seconds, eyes bulging incredulously; serious shoppers run the risk of a deep swoon. The visual shock comes in the form of a vast wall of multihued, elegantly finished handbags and shoes, their stippled chamois, Italian napa, and croc leather gleaming alluringly under a well-aimed bank of spotlights. Local designer Valeria Smith, who opened a sister store under her own name in New York's Soho in 2010, uses linen, jute, and raffia as trim, creating the kind of exuberant, overtly feminine handbags that make women feel even sexier.—Colin Barraclough
Open daily 10 am to 8 pm.
Tel: 54 11 4833 0094
Most of the colorful leather shoes, bags, and belts at Mandarine are made in the factory at their shop on Calle Honduras, and represent an excellent value for the quality of the workmanship—and a chance to own something handmade that no one else back home will have. Count on each of the stores to stock a supply of affordable, well-crafted versions of whatever's on-trend in women's fashion, whether it's gladiator sandals made of buttery leather or wedge ankle boots in wear-with-everything colors. If a style isn't available in your size or color at one branch, stop in at the sister shop around the corner.
Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.
4673 El Salvador
Tel: 54 11 4833 6566
Cult favorite Mishka sells self-styled "shoes for princesses." The fanciful, handsomely made designs focus on unusual heel shapes, striking textures, and innovative materials. Each season, designer Marcelo Canton uses a different theme or material inspiration—one recent season featured structured, ladylike bags and shoes made of tightly braided multicolored leather. The boots, flats, and heels on display at both shops tend to run narrow and trend toward wearable art. If you see a style you like, grab it: Mishka is currently available only in Buenos Aires and London.
Tel: 54 11 4777 7550
B.A. abounds in stores offering ponchos, leather saddle wear, and maté gourds crafted from silver. Fair Trade advocate and expert clothing designer Andrea Prado goes one step further by imposing modern design on traditional materials, taking naturally dyed textiles and leather produced by the Wichí and the Diaguita Calchaquí communities from northern Argentina and transforming them into svelte clothing, accessories, and furniture.
Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 6 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm.
Tel: 54 11 4814 7400
Perhaps the ritziest of B.A.'s over-the-top shopping centers, Patio Bullrich was originally a livestock auction house, and dates back to 1867. These days, the Patio offers upward of 70 stores, running in the direction of Versace and Christian Dior. You'll also find marroquinerias (shoe and handbag dealers) like Prego and Prüne, and quality Argentine leather emporiums, including the ubiquitous Casa López.
Tel: 54 11 4307 1742
These two San Telmo shops offer rack upon rack of original, affordable clothing and accessories by local designers for both men and women. You'll have a hard time spending more than $75 on any one piece, but be warned that you'll also have a hard time leaving without an armload. Look for embroidered jersey tops and jackets by Hermana Sister; funky industrial jewelry by Ananke; indestructible-looking, colorful leather shoes by Hacer Pie; and feminine knits by Creatio. The stores share a hipster-minimalist sensibility (concrete and chrome with simple displays), but the two-story location on the corner of Calle Defensa and Avenida Independencia also offers a creative selection of Pop-inspired artwork and home decor.
Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.
1973 Rodríguez Peña
Tel: 54 11 4816 9422
Once partnered with designer Jessica Trosman, Martín Churba went on to make his name manufacturing iconoclastic plastic- and paint-splattered textile weaves, which he uses to create award-winning women's clothes, accessories, and housewares.
Open Mondays through Fridays 10:30 am to 8:30 pm.
Patio Bullrich, Local 1
Tel: 54 11 4814 7411
Dedicated to smashing her way through conventional clothing design, Jessica Trosman relies on exotic materials to charm and shock, splattering a discordant array of adornments such as feathers, beads, and photographic images over dainty halter tops and sleeveless dresses. In case there is any cloth still visible, she adds an outer layer of chunky jewelry, paint, or folds of billowing canvas. The effect is esoteric but eye-catching enough to win the avant-garde designer shows, awards, and orders from as far afield as London, Paris, Riyadh, and Tokyo.
Open daily 10 am to 9 pm.