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MIAMI — From its Deauville roots to its newest boutique in Bal Harbour, Chanel knows a good resort when it sees one. Fittingly, the brand feted the redesign of its nearly 20-year-old location at Bal Harbour Shops on the first day of spring.
This story first appeared in the March 25, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Though the space expanded only slightly, to 8,000 square feet, it feels grander since Peter Marino, the company’s go-to architect for a quarter century, illuminated and carved categories into distinct sections as airy residential rooms. “We’re really able to explore the breadth of product on a level like never before,” said fashion division president Barbara Cirkva, of tripling shoes, small leather goods and soft accessories, among the expanded areas. “Now there are pieces normally limited to our stores in New York and Paris.”
Calling the shoe department her favorite in the fleet, Cirkva said footwear, which has grown rapidly in the last five years, has evolved far beyond just an accessory. “It’s the first time we’ve created a true environment versus a display,” said Cirkva of the light panels that brighten and dim depending on the weather and time of day, and gold-flecked tweed seating. “The gold captures Miami’s sunshine.”
Marino’s Bal Harbour version with pastel colors and light differs from Boston’s pending store in an urban condominium development. In Bal Harbour his vision in white is carried through the marble arches into the watch and fine jewelry department, the only one of its palette, according to him. “White makes sense to keep cool in the tropics,” he said.
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Reminiscent of a photography light box, the exterior’s glowing white facade emanates within the shopping center’s tropical greenery and midcentury modern architecture. Though it mainly references the black and white Chanel No. 5 perfume packaging, it also nods to Karl Lagerfeld as photographer (he heads to New York to shoot a campaign next week).
The store has black and cream tweed panels dripping with pearls, camellias and quilted bags. Tweed also covers the bag room’s green turquoise bar stools, cubbyhole linings and gold woven metal walls that could be considered a work of art among those on site by the likes of Johan Creten and Liza Lou.
The salon blends accents from Chanel’s Parisian apartment with contemporary pieces; her treasured crystal balls sit next to Louis Durot’s Aspirale chair in black and Marc Swanson’s crystal-encrusted sitting stag. In some cases, the past and present fuse, such as Coco Chanel’s affinity for floors as mini beaches, exemplified by the store’s beige stone tile and walls textured like dunes, for which sand was stirred into gesso.
“She was a rock crystal freak,” said Marino, who filled an 18th-century Regency fireplace in rouge griotte marble with them and hung a Goossens chandelier loaded with massive crystal chunks supported by bronze.
Scarf displays inspired by coromandel screens are all her, too.
“We tried soft accessories in a small way at our Madison Avenue store, but this is a full-blown execution,” said Cirkva, demonstrating how screens opened to reveal stocked, hidden drawers.
On par in size with Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, Bal Harbour is only smaller than New York among U.S. stores. Marino dedicated a lot of square footage to a trio of VIP-sized dressing rooms, an amenity he feels clients recognize as real luxury. Bal Harbour marks the domestic premiere of Chanel’s transition to the trend that he launched for the brand’s doors in China.