For the longest time you've sported the black-turtleneck-and-narrow-pant uniform worn by Mike Myers's German beatnik character Dieter. Yet you've never understood what compelled you to adopt such a somber-hued wardrobe. You live in sunny Miami, not dreary Berlin. You're a computer programmer, not an avant-garde performance artist. You're often seen walking your overweight Labrador, not carrying around a tiny hyperactive simian. So what gives?
Without even realizing it, you've fallen under the influence of Club Monaco. Although its name sounds like an exclusive casino on the French Riviera, CM is a chic boutique with a cultish following of fabulously fashion-unconscious folks. Their clientele consists of people who don't mimic trends but make them. The fifteen-year-old Canadian clothier, more Switzerland than Monaco for its rigid adherence to neutrality, boasts a team of 25 designers and more than 60 stores in Canada. Purchased last spring by Ralph Lauren, the retailers are now invading America. Four years ago they plunked down a flagship shop on New York City's Fifth Avenue. By the end of the year, twenty emporiums will exist in various urban centers. And this week Club Monaco comes to South Beach, opening a 7000-square-foot space that features garb for men and women, as well as its popular makeup line. (When Monica Lewinsky gave her first interview to Barbara Walters last year, many of the 70 million watching were more intrigued by what was on Lewinsky's mouth -- Club Monaco's Bare lipliner, Glaze lipstick, and Cherub gloss -- than what was coming out of it.)
Will the sleek fashionista look fly in a humid town where denizens can choose to spend their entire lives in a bathing suit and sandals? Sure, says regional manager George Poulios optimistically: "We'll still have our core essentials, but in Miami we'll have a product range that is more suitable." That means capri pants, lighter fabrics, and even some sequins and patterns bobbing around the cool simple sea of grey, black, and white. Nevertheless there's always someone who won't buy. "You can't be everything to everybody," Poulios sighs. But you can try.