By Rebecca Wallwork | May 17, 2011 | Style & Beauty
14k gold, diamond and multicolored pearl necklace by Loren Jewels
18k yellow-gold and diamond bezel earrings by Rahaminov Diamonds
14k gold, diamond and pearl earrings by Loren Jewels
18k gold and diamond ring by Rahaminov Diamonds
RM 016 Titanium Limited Americas Edition watch by Richard Mille
Lincoln Road’s new luxury boutique, Vault
What does luxury look like? Is it back? Did it ever go away? The answer to these questions lies, perhaps surprisingly, on Lincoln Road—and not only in Herzog & de Meuron’s striking parking garage-itecture masterpiece.
No, the most prominent sign that luxury is here to stay (in South Beach, at least) can be found a block or so east, nestled between Balans and an outpost of French Connection. It arrived quietly, with little fanfare, but make no mistake: Vault is set to make some noise. Its owners—a somewhat modest bunch who prefer their brand to speak for them—like to refer to it as “the world’s first luxury boutique department store.”
Step inside today and you’ll find a range of watches from Richard Mille—timepieces made with a level of attention to detail usually seen in the aeronautics and automobile industries. (While the Vault team doesn’t like to talk numbers, Mille watches are priced anywhere from $50,000 to $625,000.)
You’ll see a showcase of Chrome Hearts eyewear— the sought-after sunglasses spotted on stars from Marc Anthony and Eva Longoria to Karl Lagerfeld and Heidi Klum. Heading toward the back of the store, near the leather chairs and flat-screen TVs, there’s a case of luxury Leica binoculars. And don’t be surprised if there’s a motorcycle sitting in the shop soon; Vault plans on stocking the handmade, six-figure Ecosse Moto Works motorcycles out of Denver.
Larry Sands, one of the forces behind Vault, founded his first upscale optical boutique in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1970. He expanded to Aspen and other jet-set locations like Santa Fe, Malibu, Miami and East Hampton with his Optical Shop of Aspen. These days, after years in the luxury milieu, he lives for innovation, and even waxes poetic about the magnetic paint beneath the cow-hide tiles lining the walls of the store. The boutique showcases the latest technology—and it exudes luxury.
According to the store’s philosophy, luxury doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Being unique can make something luxurious, as can scarcity. Also on that list: exotic materials, cutting-edge technology and extraordinary craftsmanship. For example, Chrome Hearts and Richard Mille merchandise will form the base of an ever-evolving product lineup at Vault, a selection the team will scour the world to procure.
Why Miami for this initial outing of the Vault concept? (It will land elsewhere, although those locations remain under wraps for now.) The team behind the boutique point to the city’s diversity and knack for drawing an eclectic mix of shoppers. Also, the chance to be part of a retail area on the upswing—the “anti-mall” experience of Lincoln Road, particularly the western end.
Apparently business has been “brisk” over the first six weeks of Vault’s existence. Yet unlike so many things new to Miami, it has flown under the radar, at least for now. In fact, owner Yakir Shoushan seems to get a kick out of surprising the unsuspecting souls who wander in off Lincoln Road, only to find Leica cameras—and not a pair of Ray-Bans in sight. He loves seeing customers spin around, trying to figure out the kind of store this is. The answer? It’s one where Montegrappa pens will soon be in stock, and where your most difficult decision might be choosing between a gold-, pearl- and diamond-laced necklace from Loren Jewels or a pink-gold and white-diamond bracelet from Shamballa. The owners look forward to the day when Vault customers will be able to sit in the back of the store—in what will become a “virtual area”—and place an order for a yacht or a private jet.
Vault also plans to launch an eponymous line of dog tags, jewelry and fragrances. In essence, the shop is unpredictable in a good way; they want you to jettison preconceptions of a luxury boutique and yet, at the same time, to expect the world.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHN LUKE HAY