Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo — a saunter through Bal Harbour Shops is similar to walking through the glossy pages of Vogue. The 500,000 square foot al fresco shopping destination is unlike any mall in the U.S. with its uber luxe mix of retailers, koi ponds, palm tree covered parking and well-heeled clientele. Simply said, any local will tell you it’s the place to see and be seen.
Such was not the case 44 years ago when real estate developer Stanley Whitman bought the desolate plot of land which once housed a World War II army barracks. Whitman set his sights on opening the U.S.’ first exclusive high fashion shopping center while naysayers scoffed at his idea. Whitman realized his dream by wooing Neiman Marcus to open shop outside its native Texas and a collection of best-of-the-best boutiques followed suit.
Nowadays, Whitman’s having the last laugh because Bal Harbour Shops boasts the title as the number one most productive shopping center in the U.S. based on average sales per square foot according to Women’s Wear Daily. Now in his nineties, Whitman can still be spotted at his lifelong project — after all, there’s no place like it in the world.
Here’s our guide on how to navigate the Champs Elysées of the MIA:
The Parisian shoemaker to the stars chose Bal Harbour Shops as its home for their first venture outside New York. Known for showstopping stilettos, the 1,000 square foot Roger Vivier boutique combines modern and vintage with eye-popping millwork and painted walls. Shoes, handbags and small leather goods are lit and displayed like works of fine art, as they should be since the label is often referred to as “the Faberge of Footwear.”
No need to jet set to the island of Capri for the finest Italian linens. This recent addition to Bal Harbour Shops carries crisp blouses, jackets, pants and dresses in white, chocolate, natural and navy blue hues.
Show us a red carpet and we’ll show you some Harry Winston bling. The jeweler to Hollywood’s A-listers also calls Bal Harbour Shops home. Soak in the spectacular sights of salad plate-sized canary diamonds and more at this store.
Also new to the Shops is Lanvin which opened during Art Basel weekend and is the label’s first U.S. store. The 2,100 square foot boutique stocks women’s wear and accessories set amongst a backdrop of Versailles wood parquet floors and walls of mirrors. Cubbyholes display handbags while blown-up vintage photos of Jeanne Lanvin adorn the shop. With designer Alber Elbaz at the helm of the house, Lanvin’s looks are not to be missed.
Addicted to kicks? Then Addict is the cure for your sneaker fixation. Find fashion-forward footwear by Ugg Australia, Nike, Adidas, Puma, Lacoste, Sabelt and Michael Toschi.
The Italian shoe brand is a favorite amongst heel-aholics. The expertly crafted shoes, belts and handbags are housed amongst white quilted leather seating, black glass display panels, red leather inlays and LED lighting. It’s a high-profile place for its high-fashion clientele its manager tells us.
A Scandinavian luxury lifestyle brand, the Georg Jensen boutique houses cutting-edge jewelry, watches, sterling silver heritage pieces, candelabras, stainless steel cutlery and home items. President of Georg Jensen USA James Crespo says, “When walking into Georg Jensen, customers will feel as though they’ve come into a Danish home. Designed with warmth and comfort in mind, the store combines the entire world of Georg Jensen into an intimate space.”
Denim junkies, this is the spot for you. Lulu is the place to pinpoint the perfect pair of jeans. Slip on a pair of AG, Diesel, Robin’s, True Religion dungarees and tees by Superdry and Scotch & Soda. Staff will happily decipher the perfect size and fit for you.
The best part about shopping at this Bal Harbour store? Miu Miu’s 2010 Resort Collection is inspired by 1940s Miami. The Magic City’s affinity for Art Deco, vivid hues and bold prints are the muse for the brand’s latest collection. Slip into a tennis inspired two-tone mini dress at this recently opened door.
Fashionistas flock here for obvious reasons — Oxygene is not only meticulous in its décor, its contents are out of this world. Balmain, Lanvin, Alexander Wang, Jasmine Di Milo and Blumarine clothing and accessories are in store. Their specialty? Modern, gorgeous and ageless creations.
Also not to be missed are Carolina Herrera, Pomellato, Diane von Furstenberg, Dolce & Gabbana, Intermix and Ralph Lauren. Dining at Carpaccio, La Goulue and coffee at Segafredo Zanetti Espresso Cafe are also musts.
Bal Harbour Shops is located at 9700 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour; (305) 866-0311.