Isa Aguiar: Miami's Fashion 'It' Girl
By Virginia Gil
Isabel Aguiar pedaling Miracle Mile.
Few things say celebration like the 80-plus Champagne-sipping guests packed inside Isabel Aguiar’s 980-square-foot Isa Boutique for its official opening in Coral Gables. Fans of Aguiar’s shared space in Midtown were eager to toast the owner’s first solo venture in the city.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” she says of the warm welcome she received from clients old and new. But anyone who knows Aguiar, or has shopped at her store, knows that she’s equally influential to her clientele. “People come in and ask for me, and I’m always here,” explains Aguiar, whose focus on clients compelled her to turn down an offer to franchise. “I want everybody to meet me, and I can’t be at every location.” While perhaps a far-off possibility (in March, she launched her website, which allows her to reach international clients anywhere, any time), Aguiar says her focus is on maintaining quality.
Her boutique is filled with fun, fashionable pieces that eschew the typical inventory you would find elsewhere, in part because nearly everything is customizable. “If a customer likes a specific style or color, I always try to make it happen as a special order,” says Aguiar.
From bikinis by local designers Kai Lani that can be tailored by color and sized by piece (the monokini is a favorite) to handbags from GiGi New York that clients can have engraved, Aguiar’s approach to fashion can be described as do-it-yourself-meets-the-customer-is-always-right. The same goes for buying, as Aguiar seldom takes on a designer’s full collection. “I take a few pieces and ask for certain designs in a different color,” she says of her strategy. Aguiar, who first studied fashion design and went back to school for fashion merchandising at Miami International University of Art & Design, has a sensibility for not just what looks good but also what sells. Her experience as a retail consultant and manager/buyer for lingerie brand Only Hearts has earned the trust of an array of clients who seek help with styling.
For summer, Aguiar has selected designs from Bianca Coletti’s resort collection and introduced swimwear by Red Carter and jewelry by Samantha Wills to the mix. “The focus is sandals, chunky jewelry, flowy silhouettes in bright colors—I love it all,” she says enthusiastically. Rounding out the merchandise are her first namesake collections—Isa RTW and Isa Couture—which she launched with the help of partners Rudy Rodriguez and Kassandra Gutierrez. RTW is a line of bespoke, basic tees embellished with vintage buttons, jewels, and lace trimmings, which echo Aguiar’s practical, day-to-night style.
Isa Couture, while more bohemian, shares the same focus on construction and attention to detail. “I wanted the lining of our blazers to be so well tailored that you could wear them inside-out,” Aguiar says of her vision for the 12-piece line. “I’m striving for clothes you can wear many ways.” Aguiar’s eye for versatility keeps her busy with a roster of regulars, including Miami bold-facers like Katrina Campins and Loren Ridinger. It’s the people who are Aguiar’s biggest motivators. “Knowing that I made someone feel good about [herself] is what inspires me to wake up and do an even better job.” Isa Boutique, 34 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, 786-558-8027
photography by Nick garcia; shot on location at city of coral gables