Friday, 13 January 2017

One day - three eras

In the wake of Joe Biden's words about his 'Second Lady', I should acknowledge Stephanie's support for me - not simply with our trip, but also with this blog. She reminds me when I reach a point where my writing stretches meaning, and she comes to the rescue with 'the right word'. So this blog is for her, and for her friends; for it is about pamper and about clothes.

Today was always going to be a special day; for no particular reason other than that was the way it happened. 

After a breakfast of fresh fruit in delicious combinations, we set about our first event of the day: a 'floating feet' pedicure. Whilst in Buenos Aires, regular visits for a pedicure are both affordable and wise.  

Graciela works from Piedras 1025. Piedras is one of those San Telmo roads that planners and time forgot to mark. It happens from - and on the way to - somewhere else; unmemorable and easy to miss. Between a shop and a boarded front, just along from a great rubber tree, is Graciela's doorway, marked only by a number. We push the white bell and wait for her footsteps on the long corridor to the street.

Her studio is small - comprising a couple of interconnecting rooms at the back of the house. A white leather sofa stands by a small counter in the first room; the second being her treatment room. Here is a feeling of Buenos Aires simplicity, frozen in the 1970's, beige tiles to the floor, pale green panels screwed to the walls, a radio cassette player tuned to a local station suspended from the ceiling in one corner. 

Graciela is the queen of pedicures. Hers are not superficial beauty treatments: lasting 30 minutes they comprise total mastery of the feet and are like no other pedicure. Stephanie reaches from her toes to the treatment platform, swinging her legs towards Graciela's roller seat. Within moments, her toe nails are softened and ready to trim, each surface of the foot examined, all rough skin removed and sanded, with attention to the finest detail. As the treatment progresses one feels that a burden is released, a softness achieved, and a stillness attained. Then there is the final massage with cream, and in Stephanie's case, the painting of the toe nails. 

At the end I look to see if she is still awake. Her feet, always pretty, are now more slender, light and beautiful. And so to my turn.

We leave Graciela with a hug and appointments for three weeks hence. Now is time for serious shopping.

Those that follow our 'Twinwoodians' page on Facebook will know about Stephanie's passion for vintage. Together with 'Golden Age' tango, Stephanie's love for the 1930/40's takes us today to Alma Zen Arte at Belcarce 1056. 

Nora is one of those timeless San Telmo women that simply belong in the bario. Her shop is a small cave of vintage, with a slight Parisienne feel. Nora looks quickly at Stephanie and recognises a kindred spirit. "Come this way my dear and let's see what we can find", she says as she leads Stephanie to a rack of 1940's dresses. They are crammed together, in a sort of colour-code, but otherwise random stack. She lifts a pale blue linen dress with patch pockets from the rack. Above and beyond is every dress, skirt, blouse and coat imaginable. They rise in row after row - right up to the vintage wedding dresses against the ceiling. Across the small store are kimonos, and beyond a cabinet stuffed with handbags - this one in dark brown suede with pearl clasps; another in soft black leather with scrolled art deco handles. I sit on a stool and watch Stephanie explore two decades of fashion.

After a visit to Origen, Humberto Primo 599 - cafe con leche served 'French style' in a cup the size of a soup bowl - our still floating feet take us to Maria Jazmin Ropa de Tango at Humberto Primo 558.

The serious tanguera should know about Maria Jazmin. Maria's is my favourite tango shop. It is a place where dreams are made. I sit on the long sofa to watch women arriving in jeans transform into tangueras. Maria designs and makes the clothes. She is tall for a Porteno, with a slim tanguera body. Today she walks in heels elegantly wearing a slimline skirt in black trimmed with lace to the waist. You know when she approves of a choice, her designer's eye fixing and breathing a soft "belissima". This is why Stephanie is one of her favoured customers - she displays Maria's creations perfectly without a lump or bump to be seen. 

We leave, Stephanie clutching a Jazmin bag containing two of Maria's latest designs, one made specially for her. For me it has been a full day of activity. "Now, which milonga tonight?", Stephanie asks.

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