Jordan Braun/Courtesy Photo


Miami Design District stores took advantage of Art Basel’s slightly less swamped Monday for lavish parties before they lost collectors to the fairs. The jewelry-centric Palm Court sparkled like a Christmas tree, with even its palms strewn with gobs of silver tinsel through Charlap, Hyman & Herrero’s art installation “White Rain.” The “star on top” honor went to Van Cleef & Arpels, whose soaring double arbor of roses in a “Miami Vice” palette greeted its international clientele.

“Oh my, the roses actually smell, as if they were cut from a garden. That never happens in Miami,” said a young Latin American guest as she lingered to savor the moment despite bodies building behind her.

Even when the flowers come down, the fairy-tale feeling will remain, according to Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku, the store’s Parisian architecture firm. A radical move for the brand, he designed a four-story façade for only two interior floors for pure delight, and accented vitrines with sunset pink and sky-blue fabrics — virtually a no-no in displaying colorful gems. Rather than structural, columns extending through both levels are punctuated with display cases and dissipate as water ripples into ceilings.

“It’s a bit Deco and a bit ‘Space Odyssey,’ like walking into a dream,” he said, as Craig Robins charged up the curved staircase glistening with an installation of scattered metal leaves.

Upstairs, which is reserved for haute jewelry and engagement rings, Julia Pugach, a Ukrainian model turned stay-at-home mom in New York, sipped wine with a group in the VIP nook. She accessorized her Chanel lace dress and flouncy pink headband with Alhambra necklaces and earrings.

“I must have all kinds of this style, plus a beautiful watch,” she said, eyeing the new Noah’s Ark collection, whose brooches depict everything from cockatoos to kangaroos, not to mention held a 66-carat opal. “I’m working on that. We’re close.”

After president and chief executive officer Americas Alain Bernard spoke a few words (who knew the first U.S. store opened in Palm Beach in 1940?), the party relocated to the courtyard for a performance. Models wore Le Secret jewelry with Gaspard Yurkievich’s pastel sequined and crepe gowns, as Lisa Hannigan, an Irish singer-songwriter who collaborates with The National, played parlor guitar and ukulele.

“It’s preposterously unseasonal, but I’m going to sing ‘Snow,’” said the redhead, teetering on high heels loaned to her for the occasion. “I’m much less practiced in the art of wearing these things than the girls.”

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