Passion For The Past

The neighborhood of San Telmo hides magnificent treasures of an almost-forgotten past—when Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world and Buenos Aires the Pearl of South America. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, porteños began importing the finest goods from all across the globe—a symbol of the triumph of colonialism and the predecessor of post-modern globalization.

This soon-forgotten memory is leaving Argentina and moving toward wealthier countries in an accelerated reverse process. But collectors of vintage garments, fashion designers and tourists still gather in this unique neighborhood where precious fragments of history are available for sale.

El Buen Orden sells history and art. It’s eccentric, kitschy and, at times, psychedelic. Scenographers often come by to borrow boxes of vintage goods in order to recreate the past in all its finest details. Horacio Campillo and Luis Parma, a third generation family of antique traders, started the business 25-years-ago. According to them, globalization has brought a lot of changes to San Telmo, but, they say: “if that’s good or bad, we don’t know yet.”

Gil Antiguedades, meanwhile, is where the Emperor seems to have left his old clothes. The finest vintage garments can be admired in this time vault that has received illustrious visitors such as Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo and Kenzo Takada—all searching for a better view into Argentina’s glamorous past, be it in the form of a ’20s Lanvin gown or a ’40s Hector Ferngo chiffon dress. María Inés Gil, who owns this shop with her husband, started collecting garments at an early age—”simply because they made me look pretty,” she declares. To this day, Gil will only be photographed wearing vintage clothes for the same reason.

These are only two of the numerous vintage shops in San Telmo—each one an intimate experience through time and the lives of those who have patiently and passionately collected centuries of memories.

—Daniel Wakahisa

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