BEHIND THE LENS
A FRAGRANT BUENOS AIRES BY ANA TORREJÓN
As part of the anticipated visit of Olivier Polge, renowned In-House Perfumer for the emblematic house of CHANEL, to the city of Buenos Aires, we venture into a sensory journey in search of the aromatic notes that encapsulate the distinctive essence of this metropolis. With the intention of unraveling the olfactory secrets that reveal the personality of the city and the idiosyncrasy of its inhabitants, we turned to Ana Torrejón, an authority in the field of fashion and communication and Editorial Director at L’Officiel Argentina.
Guided by Torrejón’s lyrical guidelines, we took a tour through the streets of Buenos Aires along with photographer Gastón Perello. With no other orientation than the subtle aromatic traces that speak of multiple layers of history impregnated in the air and the daily rhythm of its inhabitants, we delve into the ins and outs of the Argentine capital.
Cities are what we remember, what they tell us, what we see and what they smell like. There are no general rules, perceptions are organized in first person and they feed our spirit.
I close my eyes and know what to expect from wandering around my Buenos Aires.
As I roam through the streets, Buenos Aires and are one common story:
“First you have to know how to suffer,
Then love, then leave
And finally walk away without thinking.
Orange blossom perfume,
promises of a love
That escaped with the wind¨
One of my favorite tangos is called Orange Blossom, from 1944. The lyrics were composed by Homero Expósito and the music by Virgilio Espósito.
Buenos Aires smells of jasmine from the flower kiosks, of lime trees on Avenida Coronel Díaz, of the smog from its buses, of old books, of coffee and freshly baked medialunas. The vapors from the asados de obras can reach the taste buds.
Buenos Aires has elegant vestiges of the past with an impactful present.
If I were to organize a tour for you to meet her, I would take you to…
Librería de Ávila, Adolfo Alsina 500
A well-kept treasure from the 18th century that used to call itself Librería del Colegio (College Library). Unique study pieces in Latin America, a literary café in the basement and a historic block with lanterns and cobbled streets.
It exudes the fragrance of yellowed paper and fingers that have caressed pages after smoking cigars.
Farmacia La Estrella, Defensa 201
When I was little I liked to play with my grandmothers’ creams. Pepita was a lover of violet talc, Agustina wore gardenias. I remember my first visit to Rue Cambon as a teenager, when in a gesture of emancipation, I walked out with my bag with a camellia and a fragrance.
La Estrella Pharmacy has existed since 1885 and is located at Defensa 201. Its cabinets are made of Italian walnut with a lust of Carrara marble and crystal. If you visit, you will appreciate a work called “The Triumph of the Pharmacopoeia Against Disease”, a piece by Carlos Barbieris from 1900.
La Exposición, Libertad 1299
First things first— the medialuna is not a croissant. Ours are round and have a mild buttery smell, or salty and greasy. A lot has been written on preferences.
They are never lacking at breakfast or tea time. I love buying them from this bakery and confectionery located at Libertad 1299.
They are a direct trip to my childhood.
Amongst my rituals is visiting places because that is how I ensure they continue to exist. I return, take the table by the window, nobody talks to me… It is impossible to recommend only one because I will cross entire neighborhoods to have a cup of coffee with my glass of soda, as Julio Cortázar tells it. Here is a selection:
Le Caravelle, Lavalle 726
A bar, a chat with the manager and a memorable cappuccino.
La Ideal, Suipacha 384
A recently restored marvel replete with a sweet shop that references the ceremonies from the 1930s onwards. In the past, there was a milonga for dancing tango.
London City, Avenida de Mayo 599
We call it La London and Julio Cortazar talks about it in his novel The Winners, from 1960. In his tribute is the table he would occupy and the photos that attest he was there.
Mar Azul, Tucumán 1.700
On a corner next to the Courts where the minutes merge at noon with the intense smell of ground coffee.
Los Galgos, Avenida Callao 501
Another notable bar whose name refers to the literary work by the great Sara Gallardo. A meeting point for journalists, writers and intellectuals.
Note: In 1820 the city of Buenos Aires had 17 cafés. The tradition comes from the fusion between Spanish, French and Italian, and eventually reached its own dimension. We like to solve the problems in our lives by inviting for a cup of coffee. At a table in a bar there are loves and heartbreaks, laughter and tears.
“Before I was looking for you in your confines
That adjoin the afternoon and the plain.
And in the gate that keeps a freshness
Antigua of lemon verbena and jasmine¨
Fragment by Jorge Luis Borges in The Other Himself, 1964
Jardín Botánico Carlos Thayss, Avenida Santa Fe 3951
All green in this incredible work of the French architect and landscape designer. There are 1,500 plant species, five greenhouses, two libraries, one vegetable garden and a herbarium.
The delight of being a flaneur in the sociable legacy of a country that imagined the future with art.
It was inaugurated on September 7, 1898 and is located at Avenida Santa Fe 3951.