The French always know how to one-up us 'Mericans when it comes to hot trends. They've coined iconic greats like Carla Bruni, deliciously colored macarons, and, of course, the great and powerful Lagerfeld. They manufacture some of the most effortlessly beautiful women in the world, ladies who quite literally "woke up like this" and still manage to look like they jumped straight out of a six-page spread in Vogue, shaggy-haired and all.
In short, they're goddamn perfect. And for this, we Miamians envy them. But now, we can become them, thanks to South Beach's newest women's boutique, Roses and Dreams.
"I have eep-pie chic pieces," Valerie Engel, storeowner, tells us in a très sexy, yet chirpy French accent, standing amid the family of French brands that outline the Washington Ave. boutique's interior. Aside from all the exclusive French labels that comfortably hang in close proximity (but not too close) from one another, Roses and Dreams likes to set the mood.
And they are not playing around about roses. Faux Albertine roses ornament the store's crystalled chandelier hanging from the white, high ceilings. A matching white ladder with an equal share of roses intertwining it stands alone to the left of the cash register. Vintage pictures of Brigitte Bardot adorn the stark white walls of the flirty store; and the rich voice of Charlotte Gainsbourg is perhaps the icing on the savarin, taking us off the mean streets of South Beach and magically transporting those whom enter the sartorial-dreamland to the South of France. Get the pretty picture?
Still, as tough as we think Miami life can be, it's a picnic compared to the grueling likes of rat-race fashion meccas like Paris or New York - or at least Valerie seems to think so. "In Paris, people are struggling. Everyday is a struggle," the blonde 25-year old - strangely resembling Bridgette Bardot herself - tells us of the hefty dog-eat-dog competition in Paris.
The all-work-and-no-play lifestyle and the ridiculous taxes that come with living in the City of Lights really didn't sound too appealing to Engel. Even working as a merchandiser under the most coveted of roofs in the name of fashion - Chanel - couldn't stop her from saying ta-ta - or rather, au revoir - to her French homeland. And so she booked it to the land of less-is-more: Miami.
Though completely smitten with Miami's summertime charm, Engel didn't necessarily agree with how things were being merchandised in the Miami boutique scene. The anomalous presence of overstuffed racks off of Lincoln Road and Collins Ave. puzzled the first-time shop owner. Instead, Engel decided to curate her boutique differently. The visibility of each garment being sold was extremely important. And in order for each individual piece to be properly displayed, she would need one thing - space. That's why Engel makes sure to leave a good inch and a half in between every maxi dress and burnt out, velveteen, belled pant, hanging on the few racks that encircle the boutique.
"I have this, which is from St. Barths," Engel points to a suede envelope clutch with a peace sign on it. But that's just one out of the many French imports that warm a spot in Roses and Dreams supernal surroundings. A butterfly maxi dress and silk robe speak to your peripheral, while denim jean shorts with a crochet hem and cabaret-inspired bikinis stare you dead in the eye.
And as much as Engel loves her crème de la crème designers like Antik Batik and Brigitte Bardot, she holds a special place in her heart for the up-and-comers like Emika Paris and Gat Rimon -- some of which are exclusively carried only in Roses and Dreams here in the U.S.
The fairy-like boutique also makes allowances for Miami shoppers. On those hot, muggy days, when the thought of leaving your house is as unlikely as snowfall in the middle of July, the girls of Roses and Dreams will personally hand-deliver any pre-paid item to you and your cohabitating loved ones. And in the (hopeful) near future, they will be adding personal shopping to their menu of exclusivities, heaving garment bags of exquisitely made clothes all the way to your humble abode. The French are so fancy.
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Engel also has acumen of events up her wide-cut sleeves. Not only is she conjuring up some bumpin' trunk shows, but also she's in cahoots with some local restaurants looking to interrupt the wining and dining scene with some runway shows and a pop-up shop during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim 2014. But that's just the tip of the iceberg for the Frenchie with the cute, blunt-cut bang. Because according to her, "there are too many things in fashion that you can do."