Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jet Set: Buenos Aires

El Caminito in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a city that I have longed to visit for quite some time now. My husband's parents are from Argentina (but from a different city) and I am constantly hearing about the wonders of the country. For some unknown reason, we haven't ventured there yet, but being the city-loving girl that I am, Buenos Aires appeals to me more than any other Argentine destination.

A beautiful fountain in a city park acts as a refuge for Porteños

The sprawling city is home to tango, soccer, fabulous food, and a vibrant art scene. Affectionately referred to as "the Paris of the South" it is a beautiful and elegant city comprised of wide boulevards, beautiful architecture, and lovely parks. The city and country are very European in comparison to other countries in South America as the great majority of its inhabitants are of Italian, Spanish, or French descent.

El Congreso Nacional

The dollar still goes pretty far in Argentina, so one can indulge in a luxe travel experience more easily than in say, Europe, where the exchange rate is not in our favor. My in-laws are constantly telling me about delicious steak dinners for two accompanied by a nice bottle of wine for about $25 or custom made suits and leather goods that can be bought for very little compared to what they would go for here in the States. Favorable exchange rates aside, I long to visit Buenos Aires for its beauty, the romance that seems to fill the air, and the passion that is so intrinsic to Porteños (people from Buenos Aires are called this because their city is a port). I want to be inspired by the gorgeous architecture, great food and wine, by antiques in the San Telmo market, or by a couple dancing the tango in the streets.

French-inspired architecture in the elegant Recoleta neighborhood

The colorful neighborhood of La Boca is the birthplace of the tango.

A couple dances the tango in the streets of Buenos Aires

Vintage telephones are among the fantastic finds at the San Telmo Antiques and Junk Market. Seriously, how cool are these?

You've got to love a fruit stand whose produce is as fresh as its hot pink antique, claw-foot tub!

If you're wanting to plan a trip to this splendid city, you're probably wondering where to stay. In a city this large, hotels abound, so I have narrowed down to four very different options.

Option #1: Indulge your Inner Bohemian at the Legado Mítico Hotel
This 11-room stylish boutique hotel is located in the colorful Palermo Viejo neighborhood, where the avant garde rules. It is surrounded by art galleries, bars, restaurants, fashion and interior design stores.The hotel is an exercise in Argentine identity and each room evokes the image of one of Argentina's most famous icons. Among them are Eva Perón, Carlos Gardel, the famous tango musician, Mafalda, the beloved cartoon, and the famous author, Borges.

The Lobby at the Legado Mítico Hotel

A desk and vintage typewriter in one of the suites
Don't despair! Wi-Fi is available on the premises.

The Carlos Gardel-themed Suite

Most of the suites feature fireplaces original to the building.

Option #2 For a Glamorous Experience, try the Faena Hotel + Universe Hotel
Housed in the El Porteño building, this luxurious hotel is an experience for all of the senses. It is located within walking distance to the Casa Rosada, the city's financial centre, and the city's oldest neighborhood of San Telmo. The Belle Epoque themed hotel was imagined by Alan Faena and designed by Phillipe Starck.

Decadence and comfort are combined in the guestrooms at Faena Hotel + Universe

The hotel's bar was inspired by the old cantinas of Argentina

The hotel's restaurant, El Mercado, was inspired by old-world markets and features natural and seasonal products. It has been described as "a spot where simplicity goes hand-in-hand with nobility", which is certainly reflected in the décor.

The stylish pool terrace is a place to see and be seen.

Option # 3: Grand Splendor at the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt

The Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt is located on Buenos Aires' famed Alvear Avenida in Recoleta, the city's most elegant and fashionable neighborhood.

Understated elegance is paired with every possible comfort in the guest rooms at this hotel.

The hotel is home to the Duhau Restaurant and Vinoteca, as well as the Oak Bar.

This elegant hotel has received countless awards and is considered to be among the finest in Buenos Aires.

Option #4: Enjoy Buenos Aires in the most traditional way, at the
Estancia Santa Rita.
An estancia is the equivalent of a Mexican hacienda, or an American plantation. It is essentially a wealthy landowner's estate. Isn't this building beautiful? "Nestled in 40-hectare woods, planted 150 years ago, with avenues of eucalyptus, casuarinas and ombú trees is Estancia Santa Rita, situated in the "Partido de Lobos". Without doubt, one of the charms of Estancia Santa Rita is its history, which goes back to the times of the Virreinato."

The estancia was built in 1790 by the Ezcurra family. The Spanish and European influences are very evident in its spectacular architecture. "In 1890, the estancia was acquired by the provincial senator Antonio Carboni, founder of the small village of the same name located 4 km from the estancia. Estancia Santa Rita remained in the Carboni family until 1988, when Isabel Duggan & Franklin Nüdemberg became the estancia's proud owners."

Located about 120 kilometers from Buenos Aires, it would make for the perfect weekend destination to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city with its cozy and romantic atmosphere.

Which hotel would you choose?

Let them wear expensive shoes!

It seems that shoe designer extraordinaire, Christian Louboutin is causing quite a stir in the same way that France's most notorious queen, Marie Antoinette did in her era. "Famed shoe designer Christian Louboutin has decided to go for extreme opulence. Louboutin is set to debut his limited edition Marie Antoinette Collection (in collaboration with embroiderer Jean-Francois Lesage) at the end of this month. Just 36 pairs of the ornate creations — available in three colors: pink, yellow, and blue will exist in the world — and they carry a price tag of $6,295. cautions that these “little ballgowns for the tootsies” could “cause a freak-out.”

Back at the end of the eighteenth century, the people of France were revolting against the government and demanding bread to eat when, Marie Antoinette, whose decadent lifestyle was cause for public indignation, famously declared: "Let them eat cake." Perhaps Louboutin's steeply priced creations of wearable art are a bit insensitive given the current economic climate. Let's hope he doesn't meet the same fate as Marie Antoinette!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Style Profile: Erinn Valencich

Erinn Valencich is a modern day Martha Stewart, if you will. A veritable "Jane of all trades", she is the owner of Omniarte Design, a Los Angeles-based interior design firm, but she also works as a stylist and helps clients to entertain. She is a proponent of beautiful living in every facet. Not only does she create stylish and eclectic spaces, she also seeks to create delicious food and chic parties. She has worked with many celebrity clients, including Mischa Barton, Jaime Pressly, and Jennifer Love Hewitt and has been featured in numerous publications and on several television shows.

I find Erinn's work to be particularly inspiring because of its fresh and current aesthetic. Her work is filled with many different colors, patterns, and textures The result is at once youthful and sophisticated. In a time when so many people are facing financial difficulties and with the loss of publications like Domino and Cottage Living, it is quite refreshing to come across a designer whose work is chic, but looks attainable! I feel like one could certainly achieve these looks with a little creativity. They seem to be perfect examples of pairing pricier items with less expensive ones and would be perfect for incorporating vintage pieces that have been given new life through a fresh coat of paint or new upholstery. I had a tough time narrowing down the images to use from her profile because I loved so many, so I hope that you will enjoying seeing them!

All images via Omniarte Design