The outspoken and gregarious Anglo-Argentine Vanessa Bell is the creator of bespoke shopping service Crème de la Crème, which debuted onto the Buenos Aires fashion scene just under a year ago. The daughter of an English father and Argentine mother, Bell has spent a good part of her life split between the two countries. She worked as a personal shopper to the stars in Browns, a luxury department store in London, as well as selling vintage clothes. Her “obsession” for clothes, industry knowhow, and insider knowledge have yielded, not unsurprisingly, impressive results.
Crème de la Crème is in fact the fruit of a fortuitous craving for spicy food. Bell stumbled upon the closed door Asian restaurant Cocina Sunae, which, with its constantly evolving menu and mouth wateringly hot dishes, soon became a favourite. A regular customer, Vanessa developed a rapport with the owner Sunae, who, it turns out, also managed a tour company. When a client solicited the services of a personal shopper, Sunae was quick to recommended Vanessa. After the success of her first tour, Vanessa continued to receive clients until, after a time, she decided to strike out on her own. She had just discovered her dream job.
Vanessa, browsing through the racks. (Photo: Stephanie Halovanic)
The Argentine fashion scene has much to offer; Vanessa believes it is far enough removed from its European and North American counterparts so as to contain something more “autonomous”. However, tracking down high quality goods at reasonable prices can be difficult. Prices in Palermo shopping malls and boutiques have skyrocketed and, unfortunately, their clothes are often of a debatable quality. Enter Crème de la Crème: with an emphasis on exceptional quality, the shops and showrooms that form part of each tour are almost guaranteed to meet, or even exceed, expectations.
A recent Crème de la Crème tour began in an unassuming showroom tucked away in the leafy suburbs of Barrio Norte. Vanessa informs me that the choice of location is significant: as part of an emerging trend of popup and invite only showrooms, designers are moving out of the more overcrowded and saturated Palermo Soho. Tupa’s debut collection has been a roaring success, and when we arrived at the showroom we found they were only a few pieces left. The collection is made up of deconstructed, minimalist clothing, dominated by a black and white colour scheme. There were loose bohemian trousers, billowing plain white tops, and generous cream coloured shorts.
The ‘Creme de la Creme experience’ includes Vanessa’s exquisite picking of garments. (Photo: Stephanie Halovanic)
The next stop was a newly-opened shop called Dubié only a few blocks away, which offered a range of good-quality classics that could be combined in multiple ways. The following shop, Panorama, provided the perfect counterpoint to the first two stops. Opened only a month ago, it is a mini emporium, with a varied selection of the coolest emerging talent. For Vanessa, this is the perfect one-stop spot that contains all of her favourite designers under one roof. My eye was immediately drawn to the outlandish fringed leather jacket, which, Vanessa informs me, is one of the owner’s designs from her brand “Matching Colours”.
The tour continued into the fashion world for those in the know. There was a (swoon) handbag showroom called Blit, set in small, artsy apartment and home to buttery soft leather handbags, where the enthusiastic designer himself, dressed in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops, explained to us how the versatile leather will moulding to take the shape of whatever you put inside the bag. Bimba Vintage, owned by model/actress Jazmin Rodriguez, and feels like stepping into an adult dress-up box. Hip loft space Blackmamba – Vanessa’s favourite – contains an eclectic mix of one off jewellery, unique leather jackets, battered boots and fierce leather studded platforms. And finally onto my favourite showroom of the tour, Le Loup, an Aladdin’s cave of ballerina pumps, slipper style moccasins, and heels.
‘Creme de la Creme’ opens doors to many showrooms which are only accessible through invitation. (Photo: Stephanie Halovanic)
A Crème de la Crème tour is, as the name suggests, first class. Firstly, there is an impressive attention to detail and a highly personal approach. After you have gotten in touch with her, Vanessa will send you a comprehensive questionnaire to help her better understand what it is you, the client, is looking for. Secondly, it is totally unpretentious: no judging or pushy sales assistants. Instead, she has strived to create a fun, friendly, and fuss-free environment working with personable designers and people who are passionate about what they do. What’s more, Vanessa’s enthusiasm is infectious. She is motivated by a bona fide desire for her clients to see and experience the best of what the city has to offer.
For more information about the Crème de la Crème tours, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website.
By Sabrina Hummel
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