THE WEBSTER, THE SoHo OUTPOST OF THE Miami Beach SHOP, HAS A TRANSPORTIVE CONCEPT OF CONCEPT
In Paris they went to Colette, in Milan to 10 Corso Como, in L.A. it's Fred Segal, and when they're in Miami, I hope they'll come to us," says Milan Vukmirovic, co-owner of the Webster, a new three-story boutique in South Beach. To merely hope for a place on the jet-setter's shopping rotation is humble. After all, Vukmirovic cofounded its crown jewel, Colette, and his partners, Frederic Dechnik and Laure Heriard Dubreuil, have worked collectively at Hermès, Balenciaga, YSL, and Gucci. From this impeccable pedigree comes a retail experience that will restore your faith in the glamorous old-fashioned way of shopping.
And although the 1930s art deco structure does include an outpost of the Paris restaurant Caviar Kaspia on the ground floor, the Webster is not a relic of our excessive past but instead a new kind of designer boutique. It's a modern-day tribute to the storied elegance and ceremony of the great American department stores of the '40s, with furniture by BDDW, gold clothing racks with chocolate marble bases, and a bow-tie-wearing, white-gloved staff flown in from Italy and Paris. "I have walked into expensive stores and felt uncomfortable," Heriard Dubreuil says. "We've made sure our staff is gracious and kind." If the experience doesn't grab you, the clothes certainly will. "We don't think about what will sell or what editors might like; we choose only things we love. In that way we are unique," Heriard Dubreuil says. "We suggest that our customers buy one or two quality pieces a season." With the store's deftly edited selection—including exclusive Balenciaga dresses, a one-of-a-kind blue sequin Balmain cocktail number, and Marc Jacobs bags designed especially for the store—it's the place to find something special, and it's already drawing heavy-hitter stylists such as Rachel Zoe.
To celebrate, amid the swaying palms that line Collins Avenue, Miami's rarely-seen-in-South-Beach society of artists (Aaron Young), old families (host Christina Getty), and friends who've converged from Europe (the guest of honor is jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge) gather for the Webster's grand opening. "This is so good for Miami!" says Craig Robins, founder of Design Miami. "The city has gone in fashionable cycles," says Vukmirovic amid the sun-kissed, champagne-guzzling revelers, "from the Versace and Calvin Klein decade to a new era with Art Basel. We are embracing this new artistic energy, and we hope to be at the center of it." And it would seem that they are, as all of Miami bobs in a sea of glittery Marc Jacobs pencil skirts and lamé tunics, black-and-white Alaïa cocktail dresses, towering Balenciaga heels, and glass cases filled with vintage Rolexes and House of Waris cocktail rings. "We want it to be a fashion temple," whispers Dechnik, looking on the crowd with a smile. Now that's a place of worship.