TOP SHOPS

Made in Uruguay

A growing community of designers is bringing new life--and style--to Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja.

By Terry Ward, Tuesday, Jun 20, 2006, 12:00 AM

Guipil (Roberto Westbrook)

1. Las Marias
Sisters Maria Gisella and Maria Dinnella Pignatta sell only handmade merchandise in their year-old boutique. "People tend to value things more when they're made by hand," reasons Maria Gisella. Coolest item: Maria Gisella's photo coasters: images of azulejos (blue-and-white tiles commonly found in Uruguay) mounted onto cork ($17 for six). Alzaibar 1362, 011-598/2-915-06-34

2. Insolito
Analia Toscanini, Lucia Gastelumendi, and Carla Liguori met selling their wares at a cooperative. They opened the home-decor shop Insolito (Spanish for "unusual") two years ago. "We like modern products, anything with plastic and glass," says Liguori. Coolest item: Liguori's bathroom organizers--test tubes (to hold toothbrushes and combs) glued onto plastic envelopes that suction onto a mirror ($8). 25 de Mayo 245, 011-598/2-916-25-48

3. Srta. Peel
Lingerie designer Loreley Turielle had an unlikely muse. She met a man whose mother was a glove designer; he had piles of 1940s fabrics in his attic. Turielle bought the lot to use as accents. "I like to take the old and mix it up," she says. Coolest item: Boy shorts in naughtily translucent fabrics (bra and panty sets from $25). 18 de Julio 1038, Loc. 5, 011-598/2-900-51-82

4. Guipil
Mercedes Lalanne was born, raised, and trained in Montevideo, but the influences for her Mayan-inspired line come from trips to Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala. "After being there, I found it impossible to work without color," says Lalanne. Even her storefront is pink. Coolest item: Pleated cotton skirts with polka-dot and floral fabrics ($30). Alzaibar 1337, 011-598/2-915-86-82