Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gauchito Gil

Gauchito Gil is an unofficial saint in Argentina. Images of him appear all over the place; in small shrines on the side of the highway, on little cards in the sainterias where they sell religious imagery and objects, and even painted on the side of a bridge like in this photo, close to my apartment.  If you want something, you pray to Gauchito Gil.

Upon further investigation into this semi-religious Argentine symbol, popular legend is that Gil lived between the years 1840 and 1878 (more or less).  He was a gaucho on a farm, a very good worker, and he had an affair with a beautiful widow.  The widow´s brothers and the head of police, who was also in love with her, found out about it and tried to kill Gil, so he fled and joined the army, fighting in the war against Paraguay.  He returned to his village as a hero, and was then sent to fight in the Argentine Civil War.  Tired of the senseless war he escaped and was eventually caught and strung up by his feet by the police.  Before he was killed, he told the policeman his son (the policeman´s) was very ill, and if his life was spared Gil would heal the boy and he would live.  The policeman ignored him and cut his throat anyway, but when he returned to his village his son was indeed very sick.  The policeman prayed to Gauchito Gil to make his son better, and the boy was cured.  Gauchito Gil it seemed, had healed his murderer´s son.  After this, the policeman gave Gil a proper burial and set up a shrine, spreading word of the miracle.

These days Gil is a popular saint that people pray to when they want or need something, and you often see "gracias Gauchito Gil!" written around the place.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wedding bells

 With three weeks to go we have found the place to celebrate our wedding.  More photos of this amazing old estate to come!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

BA Fashion Week

A couple of weeks ago I went to the opening night of fashion week here, where the label AY Not Dead took the opening honours in the carpark of the Paseo Alcorta Shopping Centre. Apart from the opening, which is by invitation only, you can buy general admission tickets and line up to see your favourite labels and be part of all the action.  The dark, industrial space of the carpark was a superb setting, the free cigarettes they were giving out was however, not cool, and the people, well, some were cool, some were trying for cool and some were just trying to use the free cigarettes to be cool.

Buenos Aires has a really interesting fashion thing going on, but at the same time, it´s a little bit something that I cannot put my finger on. There are some super cool stores who mostly have boutiques around the Palermo Soho area and in some of the shopping centres like Paseo Alcorta where fashion week launched.  Coming from Australia, I think I am spoiled for choice in terms of fashion that can be cheap or expensive, accessable, on sale (sales here are pretty useless), innovative, unique, available online, where the service is mostly very good, and the doors to the shops are not locked and you do not have to ring the bell to get in (security reasons here).  But here the fashion is mostly very expensive, a bit repetitive, the quality is usually very average and the service less-than average.

So the best things about the shopping here are
  1. The huge, spacious and chic boutiques themselves that are fitted out very expensively and are great to visit
  2. If you find a store that is your style, you can generally keep shopping there season after season, as the designers tend to keep the same general shapes and silhouettes while varying the ideas and fabrics and picking up new season trends.
This season, the stores I am visiting the most are Paula Cahen Danvers, DELAOSTIA, Rhapsodia and Maria Cher.

 Paula Cahen D´anvers makes clothes that are classic, basic, comfy, preppy and easy.  Winter is her best work because she always rocks good shirts, knits, hoodies, boots, moccasins, tailored pants, blazers and good basic tshirts.  When I first arrived in BA and had Australian dollars in my bank account rather than Argentinian pesos I think I bought about 9 pieces from her collection that winter.  Now that I have pesos instead of dollars, I am limited more to sale time and the occasional purchase, but I always like at least a couple of pieces that she does.  The downside is her knitwear is getting more and more pricey, and it really does not compare to the quality of Australian knitwear that I am used to, so paying 500 pesos for a knit is really not the best idea when it starts to look cheap after one season.

DELAOSTIA definitely have some similarities to Paula, but they are a little less preppy and a bit more risque perhaps you would say, with higher hemlines.  They still have some pieces that are easy, classic and do a really good range of denim and basic silhouettes in black, white and charcoal.  DELAOSTIA use their Facebook page really well, posting pictures of models and local celebs that come into the store and try on their clothes, along with prices, which I think works really well.  Their collection is much smaller than the other designers I mention here, but very cohesive and succinct.

 Rhapsodia are the hippie, eclectic, tribal print gurus, but this season I like their Native American influence and more structured military mixed with the prints that they are known for.  Not being a girly dresser, their looks can be a little too feminine for me, but I like a printed dress with a structured jacket, and they have a HUGE range of scarves.  Rhapsodia have just openend a new store a street away from their old one, and it is big, open, girly and full of draped fabrics and chandeliers.  They have some beautiful bed throws which look like they are from India or possibly Morocco, but they are super expensive and unless you will never make it to these places to buy several for yourself, not quite worth the price.

Maria Cher has a kind of rock and roll glam thing going on, with 70´s and 80´s influences. She has lots of oversized clothing, and of all the designers I have mentioned her fabrics are probably the best quality.  I have a couple of tshirts that have been worn and worn and retain their soft feel and shape.  Sometimes her sizes are so big that I wonder how the uber-skinny Argentine chicks can wear them.  If I am using a size 1, what are the size 1´s wearing?  Her bags and shoes are $$$ but very nice indeed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Last night I went to the uber-cool, rock and roll hairdresser Roho in Palermo.  The fitout is impressive, and features a lot of fluro/neon colour.  It´s kind of 70´s in spirit and also feels like you are at a bar.  They have a dj booth so I guess sometimes it really almost is a bar, although for it to be a bar they would have to offer you a drink (I will get to that later).  All of the hairdressers are guys, not quite sure why as I think girls cut really well too... and they have a huge circular couch to hang out on while you are waiting for your turn.  Luckily the couch is comfy because I was waiting a while.

The thing that I just cannot come to terms with in Argentina, is that "cool" places and things that are expensive are ruined by bad service.  It costs 90AR pesos for a cut, no wash or blow dry, which is pretty pricey, but I have no problem paying this when the experience is enjoyable.  I had an appointment at 6.30, so when it was 7.05pm I asked the receptionist if it would be much longer, and she said "yeah, about 20 minutes because we had a lot of people come in without appointments".  And so why did I make the appointment if the people without them were able to be served anyway?  So almost an hour after my scheduled appointment I got started, and my hairdresser excused himself twice to attend to other matters, for between 5 and 10 minutes each time.  I actually really like the cut, it´s just what I was after, but something that should have been a nice experience left me with a cara de culo (let´s call it, an "angry face").

Here is a tip for hairdressing salons in Buenos Aires: If you want to charge a lot and be cool, be nice to your customers.  Offer them something to drink (why is this not standard?), apologise if there is a delay, and don´t leave your customer alone during the haircut, boludo!

These first four photos are from the Palermo salon, the shots below are from the Caballito one , which I may try next time to see if they are a little more with my ideals of making the customer enjoy their experience.  Here´s hoping.