MIAMI BEACH = SHOPPING
MIAMI BEACH = SHOPPING
Last fall, Ralph Lauren debuted his new lower-priced concept on South Beach. Polo Sport is a bright, airily colorful boutique where dozens of high-WASP hues are showcased against a deconstructed all-white venue. As shoppers enter, they are treated to a juice and water bar that seems to have sprung from some Caribbean resort, a bit of refreshment for all the clothes hunting and trying-on that ensues. Meanwhile, the Polo Sport line itself is a nice, casual break from the designer's more high-end looks, while still maintaining that snappy elegance. Since Miami is awash in casual chic, this debut location makes perfect sense.
1740 Collins Ave.; tel. 305/672-7550
SIMPLE AND CHIC HOME
For innovative, unusual household furnishings and accessories, South Beachers all head to Spiaggia. Whimsical sofas and tables complement a nice assortment of lamps, outdoor chairs, pillows, towels, and rugs, all of which reflect the store's policy of providing affordable style. (I recently saw the cutest divan for the shocking price of $250.) The best items fly out the door immediately, but not to worry—they are usually replaced by something just as good or better. A one-stop shopping extravaganza for the home.
1624 Alton Rd., 305/538-7949
Wolfsonian Gift Shop
At the Wolfsonian Museum is one of the town's undiscovered and best gift shops, perfect for finding a last-minute present that is unlike anything anywhere else. As befits Miami's premier design museum, the goods here are highly conceptual but still utilitarian: For example, the Italian design firm Alessi has contributed a number of whimsical corkscrews, bottle openers, vases, and bowls in a myriad of colors and styles (some even have little faces on their streamlined bodies). Or you can pick up a pen designed by Miami Beach modernist Morris Lapidus, a pop masterpiece filled with pink polka dots on black. There are also many great books on architecture and design, as well as posters and other Florida memorabilia. Best of all, everything is quite affordable.
1001 Washington Ave., 305/535-2680
Located in the center of South Beach's hip Collins Avenue shopping district, the New York boutique Intermix has brought its relaxed, youthful sass to Miami. In addition to many of today's hottest designers, from John Bartlett and Jimmy Choo to Malia Mills and Chloe, the store also stocks its own private line of sexy separates, eveningwear, and accessories. Everyone is flocking to what will be one of the most prominent shops of the new century, with locations opening around the world.
634 Collins Ave.; tel. 305/531-5950
THE BEAUTY SUPERMARKET
This Parisian beauty emporium has swept the States with its cheeky mix of flash and substance. Every fragrance under the sun is handily alphabetized along the walls, making finding one's brand a dream. Meanwhile, every type of cosmetic—lipstick, rouge, mascara, etc.—is grouped by shade and color, all swirling throughout a streamlined, high-tech space staffed by knowledgeable experts. All in all, Sephora makes one never want to enter a department-store beauty area again.
721 Collins Ave., tel. 305/532-0904
I'm amazed that the country has still not picked up on the look that seems to be everywhere in fashion-setting South Beach. With Base, English-born designer Steven Giles has created a line of clothing that is airy and fluid, overhanging tops reminiscent of Cuban guayaberas paired with pants that may be anywhere from three-quarter length to the floor. The fabrics are mostly synthetic, shiny, and perfect for the hot weather; and the styles are practically unisex (though there are separate men's and women's sides for various subtleties of design). Colors can range from slate gray to vivid orange. If that's not enough, the store itself—with flagstone floors and trance-inducing music—is a refreshing break from the in-your-face rigors of Lincoln Road.
925 Lincoln Rd.; tel. 305/672-0101
Flowers & Flowers
Florist-to-the-stars Israel Sands has created one of the most renowned flower emporiums in the South. Occupying an elegant, mid-size storefront in one of Lincoln Road's most streamlined deco structures, it is a favorite of such icons as Donatella Versace, Gloria Estefan, and Madonna. Flowers & Flowers boasts a rare selection of exotic blooms—orchids, lilies, and African violets—and presents them in arrangements that are shocking in their creativity, vitality, and cost. In addition, the shop offers a wide assortment of pleasant extras, such as bamboo baskets, Annick Goutal fragrances, and Gilles Dewavrin candles made in Paris especially for the store. 33
925 Lincoln Rd.; tel. 305/534-16
Bal Harbour Shops
Miami's answer to Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive, the Bal Harbour Shops is a collection of the world's most famous fashion names. Anchored by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, this beautifully landscaped, open-air mall is also home to Cartier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, and dozens more. Though some shops have the occasional sale—especially during summer—it is definitely a showy scene, filled with people who have money and want to spend it. After a day of hard shopping, I like to laze outside at the Italian restaurant Carpaccio and watch the parade of the rich and famous pass by.
9700 Collins Ave.; tel. 305/866-0311
One of Miami's most immense and comprehensive shopping experiences is the Aventura Mall. More than 200 stores provide almost everything one could desire, from electronics (Bang + Olufson) and furnishings (Restoration Hardware Co.) to timepieces (Watch Station) and Italian footwear (Maraolo). Of course, all the usual names are here: Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch, the Gap, etc. Try to go on a weekday, however, as the two-story mall can become hellishly crowded on weekends.
19501 Biscayne Blvd.; tel. 305/935-1110
WRITERS AND COMPANY
Books & Books
Miami's premier independent bookseller, Books & Books offers the kind of personalized service and considered selection often lost in the larger chains. With two locations—the original Spanish Mediterranean store in Coral Gables and a smaller, streamlined deco outpost on South Beach—B & B consistently stocks the most complete assortment of titles about Miami, as well as important new and old literature, obscure biographies, and luxurious art books (often remaindered at amazing prices). Add to that a coffee bar and a yearlong schedule of author readings, and you have the perfect Miami bookstore.
296 Aragon Ave. and 933 Lincoln Rd.; tel. 305/442-4408; 305/532-3222
Lincoln Road Flea Market
From October to April, everyone, hip locals and chic visitors alike, flocks to the Lincoln Road Flea Market. Held every other Sunday, this alfresco bonanza serves up everything from '50s modern to '70s Lucite to '60s Pucci to '40s Life magazine covers. I suggest going early, the better to dicker with the vendors and snap up the treasures before the crowds arrive.
Lincoln Rd. from Meridian to Washington
WHERE FOODIES GO
Epicure has been feeding food connoisseurs for half a century. Stocked with the freshest produce and seafood (the shellfish is particularly enticing), the market is bright and cheery, with lifetime staffers nearly overrunning you to offer assistance. A splendid bakery and deli is always clogged with patrons, and celebs from Iggy Pop to Harrison Ford turn up regularly. A tip for visitors: Even if you're not buying groceries, go during lunchtime to get one of the best—and best-priced—sandwiches in town.
1656 Alton Rd.; tel. 305/672-1861
THE DELANO GIFT SHOP
The Delano Hotel's Gold Kiosk is a major step up from the usual hotel gift shop, offering a panoply of unusual gifts and sundries for guests and visitors. Though service can be ditzy, it is usually manageable, and while all the expected items are here—from Russian cigarettes to Parisian fashion mags—don't overlook shop's small but impressive selection of elegant gift books (photography, design, style) and bric-a-brac, such as miniature Philippe Starck chair models and European lighting fixtures. My favorite souvenir: the book Delia at the Delano, an homage to Eloise at the Plaza.
1685 Collins Ave.; tel. 305/673-2535
A newcomer to South Beach, Vintage Soul is located in a charming old house in a mostly residential section of Alton Road. Well-organized and run by friendly, knowledgeable owners, Vintage Soul can feature classic Louis Vuitton handbags and Missoni dresses, which sit side by side with antique coffee tables and candlesticks, all for sale at extremely fair prices. This still-secret find is perfect for those whose tastes range (like mine) from 19th-century velvet sofas to wooden platform shoes from the '70s.
1235 Alton Rd.; tel. 305/538-2644
In the design corridor of Coral Gables is one of Miami's finest furniture showrooms, Luminaire. Open for 26 years, the store is a source of extremely high-design homewares, mostly European, featuring the work of such talents as Starck, Rolf Heide, and Enrico Baleri. Entering Luminaire is like walking into a fantasy land of color, shape and texture, as sinewy sofas and glowing orbs beckon from all around. Though nothing is cheap, most pieces are extremely collectible, and represent the finest in contemporary craftsmanship and new beauty.
2331 Ponce de Leon Blvd.; tel. 305/448-7367