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MIAMI — Hermès hopped down to Florida for a party-filled winter weekend.
Its first order of business was orchestrating the final details for the move from Bal Harbour to a temporary store in the Miami Design District, which opened Feb. 23. Robert Chavez, president and chief executive officer of Hermès USA, said temporary spaces aren’t unusual for the brand. The 5,000-square-foot space on Northeast 40th Street joins those in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Houston, which are pending a renovation and relocation, respectively. Due December 2014 at more than double the size, Miami’s permanent, three-story flagship with a rooftop garden by RDAI is being built from the ground up a block south.
“The most important thing is that we don’t cut back on categories in the meantime, that the full assortment is available, though nowhere near the amount that the flagship will offer,” said Chavez, adding that Miami marks the first time the brand designed furniture and fixtures specifically for a temporary store. “They’re elegant without making a major investment.”
Light decor in looks and materials works with the mobility theme. Rather than the typical stately seating, the fine jewelry and watch section has natural okoume wood vanities and small stools with clean lines. Cork drawers and wall fixtures referencing the brand’s signature saddle stitching also demonstrate a different approach to luxury, according to Chavez.
He said every store layout differs for maximum convenience within the market. In that case, silk scarves are expected to be the big draw in Miami. Stretched squares in bright pinks and greens hang above a bar overflowing with patterns. Referencing the neighborhood’s interior design history, the home section also is situated up front.
“The flagship will continue to recognize this aspect by keeping home on the first floor instead of the third like at our Madison Avenue store,” said Chavez, of one of the company’s largest furniture offerings worldwide to come.
A central equestrian department carries everything from saddles to the Evelyne bag, originally developed for horse-grooming items and which are ventilated through a decorative perforated H. It also houses luggage, such as the high-tech Calèche-express collection that launched in 2012. Considered another safe bet in the region, color explodes in rainbow displays of floppy sun hats, wide belts and ties.
Far back in men’s, an unlined, two-button blazer and slim pants with self-belt in pale lime cotton, as well as a chic gray sweatshirt in mixed materials, hark back to Don Johnson’s television wardrobe. They’re a tease for the city’s initial Hermès Men’s Universe fashion presentation beginning May 30. Chavez said several factors contributed to staging the event, like last year’s successful versions in New York and San Francisco, and the Moore Building, a historic venue down the street.
“The location lends itself to a beautiful event,” he said, not feeling that it’s a premature move versus waiting until 2015. “It’s more about promoting the product, including made to measure.”
From the get-go, the company dived into its local event platform. Following a private cocktail party at the store on Friday, a small group of clients dined in the property’s rooftop garden with several members of Hermès’ New York and Paris teams. Sunday afternoon, it hosted the Hermès Jumper Derby at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Fla.
“We’ve participated at WEF [FTI Winter Equestrian Festival] for decades,” said Chavez, who awarded the $50,000 prize after 20 riders, including newly appointed Hermès of Paris-sponsored rider Nicholas Dello Joio, had taken a crack at the outdoor course’s natural challenges of water and shrubbery. “The timing was incredibly fortunate with Nick riding our new Cavale saddle.”
Though officially launching at Le Saut in Paris in April, a duo of Cavale jumping saddles was on view at the Hermès cabana decked out in French salon chairs and bales of hay. Fabrice Crespel, European equestrian sales manager for Hermès France, and equestrian ambassador Mathieu Pinon presented the sleek style’s concave panels and padded, perforated flaps customized for riders’ and horses’ comfort. Simon Delestre, a member of the French Olympic equestrian team and Hermès International-sponsored rider, consulted during every step of the design process. Leathers and stitching may be tailored for orders, which take about three months.