Run of the mill shops would never have sufficed for the $1 billion redevelopment of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, an iconic hotel with a storied past designed by Morris Lapidus in 1954. The resort took pains to honor Lapidus’ quirky vision and flair for theatrics with stores that offer offbeat merchandise in distinctive surroundings.

This story first appeared in the November 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The curvilinear hotel is slated to open on Nov. 14.

“We wanted to think out of the box,” said Brooke Soffer, vice president of retail. “We designed the retail to be like independent stores, not typical hotel gift shops. All the merchandise is handpicked. It’s on the higher end, catering to our customer.”

Morris & Co., the Fontainebleau’s 600-square-foot sundries and logo gift shop, looks like a modern apothecary. Frames by Jay Strongwater and Baccarat vases are displayed on asymmetric white lacquer shelves. A cobalt blue terrazzo floor is surrounded by white marble and walls are covered in silver mica-chip. In addition to magazines, cigarettes and cigars, Morris & Co. offers logo polo shirts from Hickey Freeman and sweat suits and tracksuits by Evil. For the opening, the store will sell Pierre Marcolini chocolates, and plans to develop its own line of sweets.

Since Morris & Co. is next to the hotel nightclub, it will remain open on Friday and Saturday until 3 a.m. to take advantage of revelers.

The 1,500-square-foot Ida & Harry clothing store is named after Soffer’s grandparents. The men’s and women’s store has panels with large round mirrors flanking the entrance for a Mod “Austin Powers” look. Mosaic tiles that cover a center wall, continue across the ceiling and extend out the front door to the store’s facade add sparkle to the store’s neutral palette. Women’s labels include Matthew Williamson, Valentino Red and Roma, Alessandro Dell’ Acqua, Nancy Gonzales, Alberta Ferretti, Amanda Blakely, Just Cavalli, Helmut Lang and Brian Reyes.

“We’re trying to focus on brands that aren’t oversaturated in the area,” Soffer said. “We want to bring a different element to the hotel. We’re expecting a large local clientele.”

Ida & Harry will also sell gentler priced labels such as James Perse, J Brand, Earnest Sewn, Inhabit, Adam Lippes, Theory and Edun.

The design of Aquamarine, a 600-square-foot swim shop, was inspired by Esther Williams and Hollywood water ballet films of the Forties. Soothing pool blue hues and glitzy silver accents frame brands such as DVR, Eres, Etro, Abaeté, De et Dr by Deborah Martinelli Bonavia and Roberta Freeman in swimwear, Judith Leiber, Chrome Hearts and Canaan sunglasses, and Tarina Tarantino and Dinosaur Designs jewelry. For men and boys, there’s Vilebrequin. Mirror panels on the ceiling and mirror chips embedded in the floor reflect light while columns covered with mother-of-pearl shells complete the sophisticated beachy theme.

Soffer, whose brother Jeffrey is executive chairman of Fontainebleau Resorts, worked at Anne Klein before opening two home furnishing stores, Lakewood Drive and Lakewood Drive Baby at Florida’s Aventura Mall, which was developed by her father, Don.

“Hotel people don’t really pay much attention to retail stores,” said Soffer, who plans to develop at least five stores for the company’s next venture, the Fontainebleau Casino and Hotel scheduled to open in Las Vegas in fall 2009.

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