Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Vintage Clothes Shopping in Miami

My latest blog for How To Spend It is about C. Madeleine's, a 10,000 square foot warehouse with thousands of dresses, shoes, accessories and a staggering collection of costume jewellery. You can read the full article by clicking here

Madeleine with super-stylist Rachel Zoe

When I met the store's owner Madeleine Kirsch, I asked her who she considered to be Miami style icons - past or present. Her responses painted a fascinating picture of the city's fashion scene: 'There are two women from South Florida who changed the face of sophisticated shopping for thousands of ladies around the world. For me, they personified the golden era of retail. 

'The first is Lillie Rubin. She opened her first store in 1946 on Lincoln Road which is now the heart of South Beach. Her niche was party and evening clothes, and she also designed under her own label. At her peak, she had 70 stores and became a major influence on the styles for the coming season. 

'My second icon is Martha Phillips, a major force in luxury fashion retailing for more than 60 years. She was a front-row figure at major fashion shows around the world and a major booster of young designers such as Valentino, Halston, Oscar de la Renta and Zandra Rhodes. 

'The customers at her salons were some of the world's richest and most socially prominent women. When she passed away Mr de la Renta said it was "the end of an era" and that she was "the last of the great ladies of retail". 

Martha (seated) with her daughter Lynn Manulis

'I remember going into their Palm Beach and Bal Harbour shops with my mother and it was an experience you never forget. Stunning models would show you the latest styles as the customer sat back while her European trained tailors would alter pieces to create a perfect fit. The price was always steep but the boost to your ego these items emitted was priceless'. 

The New York Times published Martha's obituary in 1996. To read online click here

I really didn't want to leave Madeleine's incredible store but I had dragged my very patient father up there and I think he had maxed out on dress time. Plus we both had rumbling stomachs.. so I hailed a cab and we went for a late lunch at the Raleigh Hotel on South Beach before heading back to grey, cold London. I loved every minute I spent in Miami and can't wait to go back - taking two empty suitcases with me next time. 

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