12/12/2011 § 7 Comments
Field Notes: Buenos Aires
As you may recall, I recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires and I have been raving about the city to anyone who will listen. The word amazing has definitely been bandied about quite a bit. Simultaneously cosmopolitan and relaxing, the city makes for a perfect destination when the northern hemisphere turns to winter. With the exchange rate currently in my favor (~4.6 pesos to the dollar), it was an affordable escape as well. Of course, I am plotting my return trip as we speak…
I recommend staying in one of the Palermo neighborhoods: Hollywood or Soho. The neighborhoods are named for their resemblance to the American cities with the same name: Soho with its bustling shopping and dining, Hollywood with its concentration of the city’s media companies. I stayed in Palermo Soho and found it to be well located and felt exceptionally safe after dark. It is, however, a bit of a walk to the Subte (subway), but taxis are plentiful and quite affordable. Instead of staying in a hotel, I rented a flat, which is definitely the most cost-effective option. Through Buenos Aires Rents, I found a sparkling clean studio in a brand new building with 24-hour doorman service, laundry, gym and roof deck with a pool, for a little over $60 per night. While renting a flat means you don’t have a concierge on hand at all times, the folks at Buenos Aires Rents were always immediately available for my questions and also offer car service for airport transfers. If you are the type that requires daily room service, take a look at Esplendor Palermo Soho, which was darling and directly around the corner from where I stayed.
Next time, I will definitely stay at the Hotel del Casco, which is actually in San Isidro, a bit north of Buenos Aires proper. An exceptionally beautiful, 1890s neoclassical palazzo that was formerly the summer home of an aristocratic family, the Hotel del Casco has been converted into a gorgeous 20 room hotel that retains much of its original 19th century aesthetic.
Buenos Aires is a city that easily lends itself to cafe lingering and meandering. I spent many lovely, lazy mornings people-watching over coffee and toast topped with dulce de leche in corner cafes. Afternoons were for siestas. Evenings were for late and lengthy dinners of steak and malbec. But should you be more itinerary-minded, there is plenty to do. Visit one of the many art museums, go to the Plaza de Mayo and see the Casa Rosada, shop for antiques in the San Telmo market on Sundays, board the museum ships of Puerto Madero, and visit the massive Recoleta Cemetary (where you can find the tomb of Eva Peron). I especially recommend Graffitimundo, a great tour of Buenos Aires street art and graffiti, for an inside look at a burgeoning art scene and neighborhoods a bit off the normal tourist route. If you go in mid-November as I did, you can catch the Argentine Polo Open, which I quite enjoyed.
As for cuisine, Buenos Aires is widely known for their red meat and red wine. I had fantastic meals at Don Julio (Guatemala 4691 in Palermo Soho) and El Trapiche (Paraguay 5099 in El Centro). I also dined at what is widely considered the best restaurant in town, Cabaña Las Lilas (A.M. de Justo 516 in Puerto Madero). While Cabaña Las Lilas was quite good and takes full advantage of their picturesque setting, I definitely preferred the atmosphere of Don Julio and El Trapiche, both of which felt more locally authentic and less touristy. It is also worth noting that most of my dinners — with multiple courses and wine — tended to run between $25 and $40 per person. Also, make sure not to miss Cafe Tortoni (Avenida De Mayo 825), the oldest coffee shop in all of Argentina, founded in 1858.
Parting notes: WiFi is plentiful in the city so no need to run up massive roaming data charges. // Bring the plug adapter for Australia and not the one marked “South America.” For some reason, Argentina uses slanted prongs unlike the rest of the continent. // You won’t need a visa, but upon arrival you will have to pay a fee equal to the amount the US charges Argentines for US visas. Currently that amount is $140, but it will also cover any other entries over the next ten years.
You can see the rest of my photos from Buenos Aires here.
27/10/2011 § 2 Comments
Now, when I say that I am originally from Los Angeles, it’s kind of like the geographic equivalent of rounding up to 10 from 7. How so? It’s because I actually spent the majority of my formative years in little place slightly to the north and west of Los Angeles proper, known to some of you simply as “The Valley.” Yes, the location of the party where Tai took a shoe to the head and went on to roll with the homies. Yes, the place that you have to thank for the “like” that permeates the vernacular. Yes, the San Fernando Valley. Like, oh my God.
Granted, The Valley is kind of like the red-headed stepchild of the Southern California family. It’s not regarded as especially cool or interesting, but rather, frankly, as being kind of lame. My mother, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, can’t even remember going there once as a child because, as she put it, “Why would you?” Perhaps I wear my pride somewhat internally, but when it gets down to it, I have so much love for my Valley and the years I spent there. I totally embrace my inner Valley Girl.
So you can imagine how happy I was a few months ago to discover The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co., purveyors of fine vintage American-made workwear from 1930-1970 and handmade, utility-inspired dry goods/accessories. And when I realized they had their own take on the classic tool bag, very much like those I had been admiring by a few other designers, but automatically and infinitely so much better because of its Valley origins, I might have geeked out a bit. So of course, I shot off a note to learn more about their bags and the operation at large.
In short order, I received a lovely reply from Warren Schummer, the man behind San Fernando Mercantile Co., as well as Vintage Workwear, a blog focusing on vintage workwear from the 1940s through the 1970s. It turned out Warren’s Valley roots were a bit more established than mine, as his go back three generations, and helped shape his addiction to workwear:
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, particularly Sylmar in my youth, then left and spent a few years spent in Huntington Beach. Came back to Studio City for my teens and 20s, Sherman Oaks for the 30s and then to Tarzana in the west valley for the past 10 odd years, give or take. My pops owned an auto body repair shop on Ventura Blvd in Studio City where he specialized in German cars including Porsche and Mercedes Benz cars in particular. That environment in addition to my Grandfather working at the now defunct Chevrolet plant in Van Nuys helped shape my love of work clothing.
Warren began collecting — actually, he called it “hoarding” — workwear and soon came to realize that the best way to support his collecting habit was by parting with some of his pieces. This led to a stall at the Rose Bowl Flea Market (#3282), where he has been in residence for more than 18 months now, on the second Sunday of every month. Warren also owns All Valley Handyman Service, which provides him with the opportunity to wear his vintage on the job.
Wanting to apply the inspiration he found in vintage to the creation of new merchandise, Warren began with a small run of work caps made from vintage fabrics, selvedge denim and brown duck, which did well. With the success of the caps, bags were the obvious next step and a tote and tool bag-inspired bag soon followed. Warren is intensely involved in the design and construction process, seemingly coming just short of sewing everything himself — which I think he probably would try to do, if he could. All of San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co.’s merchandise is made in the USA, with most of it made in Southern California.
After hearing and loving all of this, I knew that I desperately wanted one of Warren’s bags and that I would definitely be stopping by stall #3282 on my upcoming (at the time) visit to the Rose Bowl Flea. A few short weeks flew by and I found myself in the sweltering Pasadena sun at the Flea. I dragged along Nick — of the rather awesome Tumblr No Secrets Between Sailors (and also Instagram: nosecretsbetweensailors) — and made him show me the ropes.
The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. was our first stop. Nick and I had a good long visit with Warren and his lovely lady Michele, while taking shelter in the shade of the tent and slowly perusing an amazing selection of workwear merchandise. We also discussed the specifics for one of his glorious 16″ bags that will be making its way to me in New York in the near future. Of course you’ll receive the full rundown when it arrives. Such a great afternoon.
If you are at the Rose Bowl Flea, be sure not to miss the The San Fernando Valley Mercantile Co. If you can’t make it out to Pasadena, check the shop out online, as well as the store blog, and the Vintage Workwear blog.
16/08/2011 § 2 Comments
This weekend I braved the stormy weather to drop by the New York International Gift Fair. With my wet hair and Hunter wellies I wandered among thousands of purveyors of fine gifts, personal accessories, home decor, personal care products and tabletop collections. I enjoyed checking in with some of my familiar favorites like Jonathan Adler, Oly and Dune and Duchess. And of course, as I am a sucker for all things curious and decoupaged, John Derian and Company always has my full attention (I am in earnest need of a few dozen of his domed paperweights if you are feeling generous).
Delightful desk accessories aside, Barr-Co was a personal care collection that initially drew my attention solely on the strength of their product design. But you probably could have guessed that, no?
Barr-Co is the latest product line from k hall designs, a Missouri-based company specializing in aromatic bath, body and home care products. Owned and run by husband and wife team John and Kelley Barr, k hall designs believes in simplicity, quality, sustainability, and strives to use the most natural ingredients available. Their products are made, labeled, boxed and packaged by hand in the US.
Barr-Co is a collection of soaps, lotions, candles and other bath products that are hand-crafted in small batches in St. Louis, Missouri. For example, each wax candle is signed and dated by the artisan that poured it, and topped by a handmade letterpress candle cover. Currently available only in the “original scent” — a fresh combination of milk, oatmeal, vanilla and vetiver — the products are at least 98% natural and most are vegan. I especially like the deeply moisturizing hand salve, which is suggested for “before and after gardening.” (I decided to take liberties with those instructions, natch.)
Packaged in sturdy, reusable milk bottles and parfait glassware, with labels that recall the age of tonics and elixirs, Barr-Co are not the sort of products I would hide away in a medicine cabinet somewhere. These beauties are definitely worthy of display.
I also briefly stopped by Coral & Tusk, a lovely, Brooklyn-based outfit that specializes in embroidery and stationery. Founder and designer Stephanie Housley has a whimsical touch, especially when rendering members of the animal kingdom. If you’re in need of adorable embroidery, please take a moment to look over Stephanie’s pillows, framed art, merit badges and baby accoutrements.
22/07/2011 § 1 Comment
As I mentioned earlier, I did a bit of running around the men’s market week trade shows getting an early look at what was in store for menswear. While I frequently enjoy borrowing from the boys — and there was an abundance of inspiration, believe me — I was happy to discover that G.H. Bass & Co. decided to also show their women’s collection at (capsule).
I was especially interested in seeing the new Bass ❤ Rachel Antonoff designs, as I was quite impressed by the first collection. The Fall 2011 collection treads familiar territory, repeating the best designs from Spring 2011 with a few new additions.
The broader collection also contained a few gems destined for my closet. I love how Bass continues to innovate their classic designs while simultaneously staying true to the shoes I grew up loving. Best of both worlds.
Like what you see? Keep an eye on the Bass site to purchase.
16/05/2011 § 3 Comments
As we’ve already discussed, this weekend I scampered up to Massachusetts for a bit of a mini-break. With Lani as my partner in crime, our activities included the massive antiques fair at Brimfield where we haggled like pros, Cambridge and Boston shopping walkabouts, and a fabulous evening of dance moves and drinky poos at the Liberty Hotel with lovelies Christine and Sean. I have a special place in my heart for Boston and its environs as once upon a time I had a Mister in the Bean and we spent many a weekend wandering around. It was so nice to return.
While in Boston’s North End, we stopped by Acquire, a home decor boutique I’ve been a big fan of since 2008. Owner Nikki Dalrymple has an amazing eye for beautiful, one of a kind pieces. I always find Acquire to be a lovely little jewel-box of interesting tabletop accessories, wall art and accent furniture. If you are in the neighborhood, you must see it for yourself.
61 Salem Street
North End, Boston, MA
Dinner at Scampo in the Liberty Hotel
You’ll notice I didn’t include pictures of the aforementioned dance moves or my spoils from Brimfield. As for the latter, I will be posting about them over the next few days. As for the former, don’t hold your breath, cherie.