Behind the Scenes with O Magazine in Buenos Aires
O's fashion team takes Argentina's stylish capital by storm.
We Dream of Argentina
Photographer Todd Marshard read up on Buenos Aires, South America's chicest city, on the LAN Airlines flight (one of the most popular regional carriers). "The flight was great. We got to sleep, and since there isn't much of a time difference we were well rested when we landed," says O's creative director, Adam Glassman, who spends about 60 percent of his time on the road for photo shoots. "We made a stop in Santiago, Chile, and I actually like having a break to get up and walk around—and explore the duty-free shops!"
Quiet in the Morning
Our crew's first stop was the Pasaje de la Defensa shopping arcade, a converted 19th-century aristocratic mansion in the hip San Telmo neighborhood. Normally, its three courtyards are packed with people looking at the curious assortment of antiques—everything from lace curtains and outdated globes to DIY seltzer bottles—(sparkling water is insanely popular in Argentina). When our crew got there bright and early on a Tuesday morning, it was empty. "For us to get the best lighting and not be interrupted in busy spots, we need to be ready by 8 or 9 a.m., so we start prepping much earlier," Adam says. "We were lucky because it was the height of the city's summer holidays, so many people were on vacation."
Hair and makeup artist Deycke Heidorn (center) and fashion editor Jenny Capitain (left) work their magic on our model Danielle Zinaich Strahl, making sure every strand of hair is in place and each accessory is perfectly styled. Everyone looks great considering they've already put in half a normal day's work and it's only 10 in the morning. "When we're on location for a photo shoot, we work from predawn until darkness," Adam says. "Traveling for work is really fun, but it's work."
El Ultimo Tango
Heading over to the next spot for pictures, our crew stopped in Plaza Dorrego to watch a tango in the street. The best time to visit (unfortunately the crew couldn't swing it) is a Sunday afternoon when Plaza Dorrego comes alive with one of the city's largest craft fairs. Booths helmed by local artisans and food stalls selling street food like sugar-coated popcorn spill out onto the cobblestone-lined Calle Defensa, the area's main drag, and people stick around to see the booming murga dance parade that closes the day's activities around 5 p.m.
Raising the Bar
Next on the agenda was Bar El Federal, just blocks away from Plaza Dorrego. Founded in 1864, it's one of the city's oldest and least pretentious spots. Deycke and Alberto, the local producer who helped our crew navigate the city, strike a practice pose in front of the authentic, ornately carved wooden bar inlaid with stained glass.
The Perfect Shot
Todd leans up against the wall at Bar El Federal to get the perfect shot, while Deycke takes in the action. The team purposely avoided the lunch crunch (1 to 2 p.m.), when the bar fills up with friends catching up over Quilmes (Argentine beer) while scarfing down tostados (crustless grilled sandwiches, often filled with ham and cheese) and sharing picadas (platters of cold cuts and cheeses accompanied by freshly baked bread).
Keeping the skirts, tops, and dresses in good shape (no rips and wrinkles allowed!) is essential on a photo shoot, and big racks are a huge help to Jenny, who quickly flips through the garments to see what the model should wear. "I more or less knew what I wanted to do beforehand, but it always changes the moment you're on the set!"
Lights, Tango, Ole!
At any of Buenos Aires' milongas, you can learn to tango late at night. Or, see a serious staging of all its different variations at Madero Tango, the city's least touristy dinner show, which is in the refurbished dockside area Puerto Madero, a sight to see in itself with anthropomorphic ex-shipping cranes lining the water and architect Santiago Calatrava's modern bridge Puente de la Mujer all lit up. "We had to get a dancing shot," Adam says. "Movement really showed off the flirty nature of the dress."
Taking a Breather
What makes Buenos Aires unique is how it has retained much of its original architecture. French, Italian, and Spanish-colonial facades and beautiful interior details, like the ornate hand rail here, can be seen throughout the city. Todd uses the marble floor to rest between shots.
Pretty in Pink
Jenny styles Danielle's outfit while Deycke touches her up in front of a stretch of colonial-style buildings on a cobblestoned street in Palermo. The neighborhood is one of the city's largest and is broken down into subsections: Palermo Viejo (shown here), Palermo Soho, Las Canitas, and Palermo Hollywood. As a whole, the area is known for exceptional shopping and dining. "I loved it there," Adam says. "The streets were lined with cute boutiques, and you can find great handmade leather belts and bags."
Coming Up Roses
After the final shot of the day, Jenny, Alberto, and Deycke cozied up on the pretty tree-lined street. The team returned later on to take advantage of the neighborhood's hopping nightlife and ate dinner at Osaka, a cutting edge Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant. "The food was absolutely amazing," Jenny says.
Cementerio de la Recoleta
Major cultural landmarks, such as Cementerio de la Recoleta, where Adam snapped this photo of Eva Peron's resting place, were just steps away from our crew's hotel in the Recoleta neighborhood, along with the neoclassical Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, featuring works by Goya, El Greco, and Picasso in its permanent collection.
Photo: Courtesy of the Alvear Palace Hotel
Welcome to the Alvear Palace Hotel
Built in 1932, the Alvear Palace has been the city's standard for luxury hotels ever since, and its impressive marble-columned lobby gives a glimpse of the opulent atmosphere. "It's one of those grand, Old World hotels where the service is impeccable," Jenny says. After the two-day shoot, the crew returned to New York, but Adam, for one, says he'll be back for more: "I'll definitely plan another trip—there's so much to explore!"