When you think of the world’s most fashion-forward neighborhoods, parts of London, Paris, and New York immediately come to mind. But South Beach? Sure, there’s classic architecture and great ocean views, but chances are your visual image of SoBe probably veers more towards ’80s Versace and fuchsia micro-minis than brands you’d see in the latest edition of French or British Vogue.
Until now, that is.
The credit for SoBe’s “chicification” goes wholly to The Webster, the area’s newest store, where you’re more likely to see exclusive Tom Ford designs and Alber Elbaz browsing than tack and tourists. With 20,000 square feet in a central Collins Avenue location, The Webster is a mega-mart for the latest looks from the most stylish brands around: Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Alaia, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, and more. While most stores focus their Miami edit around bright colors and low cut dresses, The Webster’s pieces — including plenty you’ll only find here — are low key, refined, and just as well suited to lunch at a Left Bank café as cocktails at the Setai.
“We don’t buy something just because it’s Miami, or the idea of Miami,” explains Laure Heriard Dubreuil, one of the store’s three owners. “We do a selection that is perfect for Miami, in case you want to wear it that night, but it’s also perfect to take back to New York or to Europe. It’s pieces that can go anywhere, to different cities and lifestyles.”
Dubreuil is one of the Webster’s three co-founders, who opened the store after working for Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, where she met future Webster partner Frederic Dechnik, who has also held positions at Hermès and Gucci. The final part of their Miami trio is Milan Vukmirovic, who co-founded Colette after stints at Christian Lacroix and Lanvin.
A couple years ago, when the three friends decided to move to America and open a boutique, Miami quickly became the location of choice over more obvious cities like Los Angeles and New York. “We came here and fell in love with the palm trees and the sea,” Dechnik recalls. “And there’s no was no high fashion in South Beach. We are very happy to have chosen Miami because it is an intersection of different cultures, between the Latin, South American, and European, and people from across the United States. And it is in the process of changing in a good, more sophisticated way.”
Sophisticated describes the store’s mood as much as its designer selection. Behind a classic art deco façade that was originally a Henry Hohauser-designed hotel, The Webster includes several spacious, elegant, and just-sparse-enough sales floors (think your dream apartment with a couple extra tables of Pierre Hardy shoes thrown in for good measure), plus a rooftop that’s quickly become Miami’s chicest party space. And right inside the entrance is the first American outpost of Paris’ über-chic Caviar Kaspia, with lighter takes on its much-loved luxe dishes and an ambiance that’s relaxed enough for a quick post-shopping cappuccino.
The Webster’s welcoming mix of classic-meets-modern design — along with, of course, its assortment — is keeping the store busy in spite of the economy and Miami’s legendarily/notoriously hot-and-humid summer weather. Its compelling, concise edit has some of New York’s top stylists calling down for pieces instead of reaching out to Big Apple mainstays. But no matter how good its stock looks in another metropolis, there’s no mistaking where a Webster purchase came from. “The store has a history, with a soul, that couldn’t be anywhere else,” Laure Heriard Dubreuil says. “You really feel like you’re in Miami.”
The Webster, 1220 Collins Rd., Miami Beach, FL 33139