Erika and Roma Cohen at Alchemist on Lincoln Road.
There’s no place like Lincoln Road for Roma and Erika Cohen. Alchemist’s five-year history on the strip spans from Drexel Avenue to the Herzog & de Meuron-designed 1111 Lincoln Road building, which now houses both a new location of the original store on the ground floor and a nearly three-year-old luxury concept store on the fifth floor of the car park. The latest, larger, ergonomic space was conceived by architect Rene Gonzalez—who also designed the fifth-floor locale—as a retail oasis away from the bustling pedestrian mall. “I thought [the space] should feel like an insulated box inserted in the garage,” says Gonzalez, who created fitting rooms with mirrors and film installation by Paris Kain, designer of Abraxas Rex jewelry. A sculptural piece designed by Zaha Hadid serves as an inconspicuous cooler for pressed juices from Jugofresh, while acoustic foam panels on the walls and ceilings add to the geometric architecture. Depending on whether a customer is looking in from Lincoln Road or out into the street, the panels provide the illusion of wall-to-wall racks or curated display cases—mini storefront windows for passersby.
The impactful storefront has certainly helped business in the new location, as books, beauty products, and other knickknacks from the new lifestyle and beauty section are constantly restocked. Customers snap up coffee-table books as quickly as they do signed tomes by Damian Hirst from the artist’s London gallery, Other Criteria. (Hirst also created a temporary art installation for the upstairs store for Art Basel.) Something that really speaks to the store owner is Kahina Giving Beauty, a line of holistic, organic skincare products that Erika discovered while pregnant. “She wanted to open a beauty section for a long time, which we thought about a lot when developing the new space,” Roma says. “We didn’t want it to come across as an afterthought.” Much consideration was given to selecting all apothecary items, such as Cire Trudon candles from the oldest candle manufacturer in France and Joya solid perfume, sold in porcelain dishes lined in gold. “People specifically come to us for these items; most of what we carry is exclusive,” Erika says.
For spring, the couple is tapping into a moodier vibe for the upstairs outpost with a collection by English fashion designer Gareth Pugh, featuring dark, romantic pieces, most in a limited, muted color palette. Anthony Vaccarello will also debut in-store this spring with sexy, monochromatic and metallic pieces, and plenty of miniskirts. “Some clients respond to certain collections more than others, depending where they’re from,” Roma notes. Brazilians have an affinity for color, while Parisians and New Yorkers skew toward darker or neutral shades. Still, Alchemist staples like Givenchy, Céline, and Azzedine Alaïa do well across the board. “There’s more of a focus in the store upstairs,” he says. “This space is meant to be a place where you can experience various products, collections, and categories with different notes and sections.” Alchemist, 1109 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-531-4653