Buenos Aires : A creative renaissance
Buenos Aires
A creative renaissance
Paula Alvarado + Gabrielle Samson, April 9, 2007


El Tigre_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentine
El Tigre_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentine


Buenos Aires_Gabrielle Samson_Argentina
Buenos Aires_Gabrielle Samson_Argentina


The general rule that personal crises often push us to grow and renew ourselves can also be applied to the macrocosm of a city. Case in point: Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where the economic disaster that hit the country in 2001 became the breeding-ground for a cultural renaissance that now permeates the areas of fashion, architecture, fine art, industrial and graphic design. While economic depression remains a high price to pay for artistic rebirth, the hardships Argentines have endured have served as creative fuel, as they seek new avenues of expression to give voice to their particular struggles and illustrate the impact of national upheavals.

Buenos Aires, The Bridge_Argentina
Buenos Aires, The Bridge_Argentina


Buenos Aires by night_Argentina
Buenos Aires by night_Argentina


The economic crisis in the 21st century is rooted in the political situation of the preceding decades. At the end of the 1980s, Carlos Menem became president and soon implemented the Convertibility Plan, pegging the Argentine peso to the dollar by law, with the explicit purpose of securing economic stability. This development lead Argentina’s widespread middle class to look beyond their own country and spend their leisure time and capital beyond the Argentine border, predominantly in the United States and Europe.

Urban Art_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Urban Art_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


La Rural Fashion Buenos Aires_Gabrielle Samson_Argentina
La Rural Fashion Buenos Aires_Gabrielle Samson_Argentina


Argentine investments and money gradually departed abroad, despite the fact that foreign investment in the country was falling. Tourism was practically inexistent, as the country had become expensive for foreigners. Coupled with extensive privatization, Menem’s economic policies rapidly lead to the crash of 2001: soaring inflation eventually led the government to unpeg the peso from the dollar and allow the currency to be determined once more by market forces. No longer artificially high, the exchange rate receded to 3 pesos to the dollar.

San Telmo by night_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
San Telmo by night_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Buste Bocabu_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Buste Bocabu_Buenos Aires_Argentina


With the recession in full swing, a majority of Argentines found their opportunities to travel and purchase abroad severely truncated, leading to a revalorization of national products and destinations. Simultaneously, the first generation of students in Fashion and Design from the University of Buenos Aires graduated and made their entrance onto the cityscape as young, highly skilled professionals who chose to establish themselves in affordable neighborhoods in the city, namely Palermo and San Telmo. The design street stands and flea markets in these neighborhoods, that later spread to the greater metropolitan area, both complemented and fueled this phenomenon. With the financial support of the government of the City of Buenos Aires, this cultural rebirth occurred in all artistic areas, as its department of culture offers a plethora of free events, subsidies, festivals, and spaces for young cultural entrepreneurs.

La Boca_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentine
La Boca_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentine


Once the social environment settled – namely, the social unrest and sporadic rebellions in the streets – and the new exchange rate was implemented, waves of tourists started to disembark in the city and formed a new source of financial backing for artistic endeavors.

Designers at Palermo Fair Week_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Designers at Palermo Fair Week_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Malba_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Malba_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Following these developments and the gradual stabilization of the country, the market stand designers moved from the streets to share, multi-brand boutiques, and then on to their own stores. Many of the designers that started out on sidewalk corners now occupy chic boutiques that easily compete with their European counterparts.

Designers at Palermo Fair Week_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Designers at Palermo Fair Week_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Boutique at Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Boutique at Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Boutique at Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Boutique at Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Today, Buenos Aires, and Argentina as a whole, are blossoming. The valorization of local production by foreigners has served to bolster national confidence, so that Argentines might stop looking towards Europe for inspiration and find it within, and, in the process, attract the gaze of the very countries it has traditionally sought to emulate.  Buenos Aires is now a mecca of design, as a regenerating economy has allowed for the restoration of previously crumbling areas of the old city and decaying warehouses along the river.

Cecilia Gadea, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Cecilia Gadea, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Cecilia Gadea, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Cecilia Gadea, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Florencia Fiocca, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Florencia Fiocca, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Design Districts

Palermo

This neighborhood was born thanks to the initiative of a young group of designers that started to establish their studios here, as the rent prices were usually very low, rapidly converting it into the creative center of Buenos Aires design. Chic graphic design studios, clothing shops and accessories for all tastes line the streets that surround the reknowned Plaza Cortazar. In this neighborhood, luxurious and expensive shops coexist with various alternative spaces where people congregate to sell their goods, such as the multitude of markets and stands that emerge on the weekends.

Bistrot_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Bistrot_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Maria Marta Facchinelli, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Maria Marta Facchinelli, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


San Telmo
The key to understanding how San Telmo stopped being a classic neighborhood full of crumbling antique townhouses and opened its streets to young bars and design stores resides in a plan that the government of the City of Buenos Aires launched several years ago, in which it offered very affordable mortgages and rents to young designers specifically. The neighborhood was revived thanks to these subsidies, albeit more slowly than Palermo, and art galleries, clothing and accessories stores, cultural centers and bars of all kinds sprouted along the streets.  Today, most of the action is centered around Dorrego Square. The culminating point is the intersection with Chile Street. A notable shop is Pablo Ramirez, one of the great Argentine fashion designers.


Boutique at Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Boutique at Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Boutique at San Telmo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Boutique at San Telmo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Florencia Fiocca, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Florencia Fiocca, designer_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Puerto Madero
Although the modernization of Puerto Madero is a topic that still gives rise to debate – as the commercialization of the lots in this zone involves certain dirty government deals from the 90’s – this neighborhood has inarguably been much improved from the time that it was merely a mass of abandoned warehouses lining the river. Today, it is one of the most attractive and exclusive neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. The fact that one of the most luxurious hotels of the area, the Faena Hotel + Universe – brainchild of ex-fashion designer Alan Faena, designed by Philippe Starck, and partially financed by Austin Hearst, the grandchild of legendary communications guru William Randolph Hearst – opened its doors in 2004 provides ample proof of the neighborhood’s escalating exclusivity. This neighborhood was finally consecrated with the launch of establishments boasting the finest products on the market, from bars and restaurants to luxurious stores. In addition, the inauguration of the vanguardist cultural center El Porteno – also one of Faena’s projects, that will be designed by Sir Norman Foster and promises to shelter fine artists, as well as designers and writers (opening projected for 2010) – is eagerly awaited.


El Porteno_Art District_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
El Porteno_Art District_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Palermo_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


La Boca Tango_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentine
La Boca Tango_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentine


Subway_Véronique Laliberté_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Subway_Véronique Laliberté_Buenos Aires_Argentina


Tango La Boca_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina
Tango La Boca_Gabrielle Samson_Buenos Aires_Argentina


English translation: Caroline Zimmerman

Photographer : Gabrielle Samson
Art Director et Styliste : Véronique Laliberté
Originale idea: Véronique Laliberté and Gabrielle Samson
Model: Sol Miranda (civiles management argentina)
Interns: Karina Jacobsen and Massimo Malauri
Make up: Solange Schwerdtfeger
Hair: Yanina Priore
Photo editing: Gabrielle Samson and Véronique Laliberté
Special thanks to Yamisme Lafont and to Office Québec Amérique pour la Jeunesse

Contacts: www.gabriellesamson.com
               www.11h11.com

Addresses:
Florencia Fiocca
Cabello 3650 PB ° B (Palermo)
www.ffiocca.com

Maria Marta Facchinelli
El Salvador 4741 (Palermo)
www.facchinelli.com

Cecilia Gadea

ugarteche 3330  (Palermo)
www.ceciliagadea.com

Pablo Ramírez
Perú 587 (San Telmo)
www.pabloramirez.com.ar