Feria de San Telmo: A Must-See for Fashion Enthusiasts (2013)
I have been in a bad mood since Gareth left yesterday afternoon. I miss being around him so much. He always puts me at ease and makes me feel better, and without him all of the shitty little things about travel (like cab drivers trying to rip you off or the air conditioner leaking everywhere and the apartment owner not caring) feel so much more annoying and stressful.
To cheer myself up I decided to indulge in my favorite activity, shopping. The San Telmo feria (or market) on Sunday is one of Buenos Aires’ famed weekly traditions. There are blocks and blocks of streets filled with vendors selling everything from horse grooming equipment to sexist airbrushed shirts to endless mate cups.
My favorite stalls, of course, were the ones with vintage jewelry and handbags. I only brought 700 pesos ($73.68 USD at the blue market rate which I exchanged them with locals for, or ~$116 USD at the official government rate) so that I wouldn’t buy anything too crazy. In retrospect, I wish I had brought a little more, or tried to take the bus instead of cabs to save myself 130 pesos because there was a lot of jewelry which I loved but couldn’t buy or I wouldn’t have had enough pesos for a cab home.
(Made just for me? The CMD bag)
Nevertheless, I got some pretty cool things, considering my modest budget. The first thing I bought was a leather bag with my initials on it. Pretty much since kindergarten, I have been doodling “CMD” in bubble letters everywhere, so to find a personalized and gorgeous leather bag with my exact initials monogrammed on the hardware felt serendipitous. I tried to walk away from it, but then felt compelled to walk back to buy it after a couple of minutes of dithering. I definitely overpaid a little, but if overpaying means spending $30 USD instead of $18 USD on a one-of-a-kind bag seemingly made for me, then I am fine with that.
Aside from the quasi-bespoke nature of the bag vis-a-vis my exact initials, the quality of the leather is great. It has unexpected neon yellow stitching and a strong shape which makes it seem very contemporary, almost Proenza Schouler-esque. Definitely the best $30 USD that I have ever spent on a handbag. (Update: Google revealed that CMD is the name of a design school in Buenos Aires, so likely this bag was made by one of its students, and not owned by someone with the same initials as me… Still cool either way)
I also bought another leather bag for the whopping price of $4.21 USD. The chain was added with buttons (which are only visible if you open the bag up), and you can’t store anything on the inside, only in the zip pockets, but it is a very cool and unique bag. It looks almost like a ranch ledger or estancia diary was repurposed into a handbag, since there isn’t a true bottom to the bag, and the shape of a bag looks like a journal turned sideways. This is further evidenced by the hardware on the side, of a horse’s head inside of a horseshoe, and the fact that I bought it at a stall which mostly sold horse grooming accessories. An amazing find with a potentially interesting provenance, for the price of a Starbucks latte.
(The horse bag)
The best bargain of my San Telmo trip was a red leather and metal fringed necklace, which I acquired for $3.19 USD. I liked the whimsical bow charm in the middle and thought it would be a cute way to accessorize and feminize Gareth’s baggy gray J.Crew teeshirt which I have taken to wearing in the searing daytime Bs As heat. I have seen (and bought) similar pieces which were not made with real leather at Zara for 15 times the price, so it was definitely a true bargain.
(Murano glass necklace from the 1960’s)
Slightly less of a bargain, but still an awesome find was the oversized Venetian Murano glass necklace from the 1960’s which I purchased at my favorite jewelry stand. I was running low at pesos by this point, so I couldn’t get everything I wanted. I chose this necklace over the Hermes bag-shaped rhinestone pin which was so adorable but I don’t wear pins really, and the cool snake bracelet made of leather and metal (seeing as it was painful to get over my obese hand and the vendor yelled at me when i tried to put it on normally by stretching out the snake a little). Despite the vendor’s paranoia, her stall was definitely my favorite as the pieces were high-quality, interesting and truly vintage. I love how this necklace started out its life in the famous Murano glass factory in Venice, was flown across the ocean to Argentina and now will be coming home with me to Connecticut. A really special and beautiful piece, with a provenance spanning 3 continents.
(All of my treats from the feria)