As president of Chanel’s fashion division, Barbara Cirkva must possess a closet that’s nothing less than highly enviable—yet for a recent trip to Bal Harbour, a hardhat proved to be the requisite accessory.
Cirkva was in town to check out the progress on the redesign of the label’s Bal Harbour boutique, the first update since Chanel opened in the venerable retail destination in 1994. “We knew it was time for a face-lift, but we ended up just gutting the whole place and starting over,” Cirkva says. “Miami has always been an incredibly important market for us, so we wanted to take this opportunity to create a space that showcases the brand in a really significant, unique way.”
The resulting 8,000-square-foot boutique, which opened its doors on March 21, indeed represents a new vision for Chanel’s retail spaces, one that combines light and modernity with artful interpretations of some of the house’s most celebrated symbols. Architect Peter Marino, the go-to designer for Chanel spaces, seamlessly weaves together key elements of the Coco iconography to create a tale that is equal parts subtle and romantic, starting with the overall color palette, Cirkva says. “This is an entirely new color story for us, much softer than you would find in the Northeast or other markets—less black and more a focus on beige,” she explains. “Coco of course was fond of beige because she wanted to remind herself of the beaches in Deauville—Miami is a beach town, so this palette of beige, pale gold, and white proved to be a delightful homage to that.”
Marino designed the Bal Harbour boutique using Chanel’s famed rue Cambon apartment as a jumping-off point, creating a series of rooms that boast a bit of a residential feel, dotted with custom-designed carpets and sofas in the label’s signature tweed. An accessories room featuring handbags and costume jewelry greets clients upon entering, with an expanded ready-to-wear space just beyond; a new “Ultra Luxe” room showcases fine jewelry and watches—including the just-launched Première collection—as well as a selection of exotic and sometimes limited-edition handbags. The redesign also afforded the opportunity to create a VIP space that hadn’t existed before—Cirkva calls it “a wonderfully oversize sitting room with cases where you can actually accommodate an entire entourage and create an all-afternoon experience.”
Chanel’s legendary life included friendships with the likes of Picasso and Dalí; accordingly, Marino commissioned four artists to create Coco-inspired works for the store. From Marc Swanson, Untitled (Sitting Buck) in the boutique’s ready-to-wear area recalls the pair of bronze deer that still reside in front of the fireplace in Chanel’s apartment, while Peter Dayton’s abstract Camellias evokes the flower most closely associated with the label. “In all of our markets, we want to take advantage of an evolution of our boutique designs, just as Karl Lagerfeld has consistently evolved the clothes and the accessories,” says Cirkva. “This new Bal Harbour design places it unquestionably within the top tier of our stores, creating a Maison Chanel, if you will, that showcases Karl’s latest creations in the most modern, innovative way.” Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-0550