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A Shopping Excursion in Buenos Aires

Javier Pierini Shopping Out in Buenos Aires

Photo: Javier Pierini

A 1960’s vibe permeates Mariano Toledo, where a bright-green rug pops on the stark white floor. A pleated mini is accessorized with green floral tights and a shiny buckled bag—all three items seem to have taken a page from Pierre Cardin’s playbook. A long polka-dot dress that owes a debt to the mod designer Ossie Clark goes for about $630.

The little orange house where MU has set up shop was once a private home. Now the bathroom provides space for a clerk and a computer; doors have become worktables. The merchandise, selected by three owners and tapping the talents of more than 100 artisans, is a carefully curated collection of folk art figures, hand-painted scarves, dresses enhanced with appliqué flowers, and even a necklace made with orange felt circles.

There’s a blue Vespa parked just inside the door of Las Oreiro, owned by actor and singer Natalia Oreiro. Inside, the structural columns are covered in polka dots, and a canopy of crystals dangles over the cash register. Up a leopard-print-carpeted ramp, smocked sweaters are around $115, and there’s an evening bag made of ribbons with crystal handles, a rarity in this leather-obsessed town. Is it raining?Seco has clear plastic coats edged in red and white checks, matching checked plastic bucket hats, and other wet-weather gear you’ve never seen before.

Walk down a short corridor and ring the bell to enter Nadine Zlotogora, where a rich-hippie aesthetic rules. The frothy confections—tiered black dotted-Swiss dresses and speckled cotton knit blazers—avoid saccharine territory by being paired with the shop’s line of high-top sneakers. Then stop by Mercer, a humongous full-service denim store, if only to gawk at the interior decoration: floor-to-ceiling library bookcases filled with jeans; wicker fans turning lazily high overhead; floors covered with hundreds of patterned Oriental rugs.

Barrio Norte

Locals shuddered and shouted when rumors circulated in 1999 that this historic theater might be torn down. The building has been declared a landmark, but now the balcony, domed ceiling, cherubs, marble columns, and elaborate sconces embellish a first-class bookstore, Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid. You can get started on a good novel in one of the white and gold-leaf boxes or sip your coffee where the screen once hung.

If you’d prefer to catch up on your reading in your own lair, the sophisticated home accessories at Airedelsur may appeal. Though the showroom is sequestered on the ninth floor, it is in fact open to retail customers. Prices are in dollars, and its wares are a very good value, considering the quality and design level. Huge trays made of Argentine silver abound; a trio of stacking tables covered in goat leather is set in frames that look like wood but are in fact iron; and then there’s that fox throw that would warm up the most austere ivory divan.

Lynn Yaeger is a contributing editor for Travel + Leisure.

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