Art comes in all shapes and sizes – from small and accessible to ginormous and completely impossible! One of the best ways to take away a piece of art or cultural souvener from your stay in Mendoza is through the arty shops dotted around the city.
A quirky little shop on Espana street, Flora Maria features the fashion collection of owner and designer Lucia Quiroga. Quiroga specializes in the use of bold colors and textured fabric and presents a wide and eclectic profile of dresses, tops, and trousers. Complimenting her collection, she includes the work from other Argentine designers featuring a cornucopia of garments, soft leather boots and hand-made jewellry. Flora Maria, Espana 1029. Open 9:30-13:30 and 17-21 Mon – Sat. Tel (261) 429 7797
Ni Chicha Ni Limonada
Arquitect Canela decided about three years back that she was tired of traveling to Buenos Aires in order to find household items a little out of the ordinary. So she opened Ni Chicha Ni Limonada, a collection of things with ordinary function but extraordinary form. Items range from sleek and modern to knee-slappingly funny. Take a paper-tower-holder that is a naked cook, only decent once dressed with a roll of paper towel; or a ceramic coffee mug that looks exactly like a cardboard to-go one. The perfect place for an unusual gift. Ni Chica Ni Limonada: Agustin Alvarez 17, (261) 423 5852; or Paso de los Andes 1893 (261) 420 0481. Open Mon – Sat, 9:30am to 8:30pm. Got to love those places that open in the siesta!
Of all the shops on this list, Kraam is the one that most transcends the genre of shop. Located in a converted house on Espejo, along with the display of clothing made by Mendocino designers, you’ll find a monthly exhibit of a local artist. Each month they throw an art opening for that month’s exhibition and feature a local band in the festivities. Besides clothes and shoes for both men and women, they sell the artwork and cds from local bands. Kraam: 659 Espejo. Open from 10:30-1:30 and 17:30 – 21:30 Mon – Sat.
Located just outside Mendoza center, Divino Tormento is one of the first design-by-owner shops in the province. Founded eight years back, the three sisters who own it each present their own collections of women’s clothing and accessories. Garments are hand-cut and sewn, and certain items hand-painted. The shop is located in Barrio Bombal which is just south of the city and is often referred to as Mendoza’s own version of Palmermo Soho in BA, with unique shops, eclectic restaurants and tea houses. Divino Tormento: 9 de Julio 214. 424 1288. Mon – Fri, 10-1 and 5-9 and Sat AM.
Another collectively owned boutique featuring local designers, at Hay Diseno you’ll find and bright and bold mix of men’s and women’s ware, durable handbags and funky footware. The collection rotates and changes every month, guaranteeing that you’ll return for another Hay fix. If you’re lucky like I was, their bewitchingly patterned, 100% cotton undies will be on sale for 25 pesos a pop! Hay Diseno: 9 de Julio (between Rivadavia and Montevideo). Mon – Sat, 9-1:30 and 5-9.
Just opened a few months back, Mutantes (Mutants) is a curious and exciting new location for one-of-a-kind gifts, stationary and garments for both sexes. A sibling trio of owners, Facundo and Federica are designers while Valentina mans the ship back at the shop. Besides featuring the collections of the two co-owners, you’ll encounter many a unique item from small-scale designers and artists in Mendoza and some from BA. My personal favorite: Facundo’s 3-D tee-shirts that actually come with a pair of complimentary 3-D glasses! Mutantes: Paso de los Andes 720. Tel. 420 0906. Mon – Sat 9:30-1:30 and 5-9.
By Gwynne Hogan
Published in the April/May 2012 edition of Wine Republic