Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Once upon a time, there was a little princess born with a wild mess of thick, coily locks. As she grew up, all of the pretty, fair-haired maidens in the kingdom laughed and pointed at her. Some yelled, "Rat's nest!" and threw bottles of straightening gel at her head. Fearing she'd never find a prince, she spent hundreds of dollars on irons and smoothing products. Then, one day, she stumbled into GBS Salon in Coral Gables. There a friendly effeminate Cuban stylist convinced her he could magically transform her kinky straggles. He explained he had been trained just for the occasion — that he'd studied the DevaCut (created by celebrity stylist Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl). So the princess felt safe as he dry-cut her mop, thinning each spiral individually into a shapely sculpture. Afterward, she looked in the mirror and — poof — a flowing stream of shiny curls sat obediently at her shoulders. She paid him $80, tipped well, and was out the door before he could ask, "Want to hunt for princes together?"
Courtney Williams is rummaging through a bottom cabinet inside Project 51 in Coconut Grove. He pulls out an alien-looking boot in a moss green, violet purple, and night black color motif. The heavyset sneaker pimp proudly holds up a Nike Convoy Huarache basketball shoe, circa 1993. "I had a pair just like these when I was a kid," Williams explains. "I dogged them out. I found this pair two years ago on eBay." Ten months ago, Williams converted his sneaker love into a business, opening up the first specialty store of its kind in the Grove. "I was going to open on the Beach," Williams says, "but then I realized the Grove didn't have anything like this." Indeed, Project 51 is like walking into a candy store, except the sweets are the multicolored Adidas, Nike, Puma, and Supra athletic shoes lined up on the rainbow-hued shelves. "I'm a sneaker collector," Williams says enthusiastically. "I collect them like crazy. You are not gonna find these shoes at Foot Locker or Champs." And his eye for exclusive kicks can't be doubted. He has stocked the limited-edition ?uestlove gold pack Nike Dunks. The Portland sneaker maker produced only 200 of them. "Those sold out quick," Williams notes. But there are still plenty of other tight sneakers to choose from, including a nice selection of skateboard sneakers by Supra, which have gained notoriety since Lil Wayne has been sporting them. Of course, buying a sweet pair of kicks requires that you find an equally dope T-shirt to match the ensemble. Project 51 has you covered there too, carrying underground labels such as Kidrobot, 10.Deep, DGK, and Crew. You can check out Project 51 Monday through Wednesday from noon to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Maybe you make this mistake. Every year during the holiday season, you shop for gifts for your friends and family at the places you like to shop, instead of the places they shop. We do this all the time, and usually we wind up at Base. The place is a one-stop shop for the hip-junkies of any type who need their fix. For kiddies, there's a wide array of vinyl designer toys. For music lovers, there's a well-curated "music bar" stocked with the latest dance mixes and chilled-out albums. For folks with bare coffee tables, there's a never-ending supply of books that would look amazing on them. There are clothes, shoes, perfumes, jewelry, DVDs, accessories, furniture, art, and other random items. It's kind of amazing all of this fits into such a small space. But be warned — this place isn't for everyone. Grandma never did put up that complete collection of Dunnys we got her. And Mom hasn't even opened the book we gave her three years ago about the Dadaist movement. So, we've made peace with the fact that our family isn't as fashionable as we'd hoped. Nowadays, we get them Chili's gift cards and hope for money in return so we can shop at Base for ourselves.
Face it. Not everyone is suffering from the effects of the economic downturn. For people looking to still spend cash indiscriminately on high-end clothing without looking like a complete jackass for dressing ostentatiously in these hard times, the Adidas Y-3 store in the Design District might be their best bet. Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto pairs up with the German sports apparel brand to create clothing that is simple yet gorgeously designed — think athletic and casual clothing that's too nice to actually work out in. Most items are priced well above $100, so there is no bargain shopping here. And because the exclusive Y-3 stores aren't scattered around the country like your neighborhood American Apparel, fashion repeats are virtually nil.
OK, fellas, if you want to get into Louis or Mynt, both on Collins Avenue, pleated khakis and an Oxford are not gonna cut it. We suggest you jettison your faux pas style while cruising Biscayne Boulevard and pull into U.D. Stylelab Miami, the perfect one-stop boutique for banging jeans, T-shirts, hats, CDs, jewelry, toys, and gadgets. This place takes pride in stocking wares you are not going to find at any other fashion boutiques around town. We recommend that you buy a sick pair of Anama jeans and match them up with a wicked tee by Envy Evolution, Kid Dangerous, or Alkemy. Then add a couple of slamming accessories, such as that Goorin Bros. plaid brim and a pair of Forero cuffs — pounded and riveted bracelets made of mid-century metal found in salvage yards. But be ready to drop some coin. Clothes and accessories start around $60. Jeans average between $97 and $275. If you're lucky, you'll score something cool off one of the boutique's sale racks, which at times have items for 70 percent off. U.D. Stylelab is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.
So, after years of breaking up and then making up, you've decided she's the girl for you. Now you must find that sparkling diamond engagement ring that is gonna make her say, "Hell, yeah!" We suggest you take a trip to the Seybold Building in downtown Miami, where more than 280 jewelers are ready to help you make sure you don't mess up and come home with something that resembles a trinket out of a Cracker Jack box. Built by Miami pioneer John William Gottloeb Seybold in 1914, the building has entrances on Flagler and First streets. Once inside, you'll have to squint a bit to overcome all the glistening baubles on display. The Seybold Building is the second-largest jewelry building in the United States. You will find an unparalleled selection of diamond rings where jewelers value quality over quantity. For more than 30 years, millions of people have turned to the jewelers inside the Seybold Building to help them find the perfect gifts for the significant people in their lives. Or maybe you feel like buying the diamond and having the ring made. Well, amid the 200 tiny workshops and boutiques, you will find spaces occupied by diamond cutters, gem setters, and gold dealers who can help you make a unique ring. For example, you could visit diamond dealer H&Y Diamonds on the tenth floor, where you can find rough and cut rocks from across the globe. After selecting a fantastic stone, take the elevator one floor down, where setters such as Ernesto Ercilla will charge you $2.50 to mount small stones or from $25 to $35 to set a two-carat stone. And if you don't want the hassle of searching for a parking spot, there's valet service. The Seybold is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.