News reports are continually sounding the death knell for brick-and-mortar retail, but in Miami Beach, at Faena Bazaar & Curio, the dominant sounds are the clacking of heels and the clinking of Champagne glasses as shoppers celebrate good style. The secret of the Bazaar’s success? “It’s about the experience,” says Jeffrey Lasota, founder of the fashion agency Curio and the new curator of the four-floor, 20,000-square-foot shopping complex in the Faena District (a micro-neighborhood built around the Faena Hotel). “Having those Instagram-able moments and those extras that you can’t put your finger on are important to a successful retail business.”
Of course, having unique, fashionable wares helps too. The Bazaar first opened in December 2018, offering a series of “shop-in-shops” with men’s and women’s clothing and accessories—sort of a stylish take on a Middle Eastern souk. Lasota relaunched the complex at the end of 2019, just in time for Art Basel Miami Beach, adding a full floor of vintage and upcycled clothes from New World Collective and a “white room” catering to brides-to-be in need of pre-wedding looks. (Bridal shower? Bachelorette party? Rehearsal dinner? Check, check, and check). Serena Williams kicked things off in December, unveiling a new collection at her pop-up shop, and more designer-hosted parties are in the works.
Lasota’s Bazaar focuses on introducing shoppers to “undiscovered players” like Redemption, “a rock ’n’ roll but super-elevated brand” that makes drapey jumpsuits and faux leopard-fur coats, and Julie de Libran, a former artistic director for Sonia Rykiel who recently launched her own collection of elegant silk dresses and flirty sequined cocktail minis. “It’s putting together a compelling assortment of newness,” he says, “so that in a crowded retail space, you’re able to stand out as something really interesting.”
The curator goes on to stress, however, that this is “not just another store. It’s something to do—an attraction.” Shoppers can walk from room to room, admiring seashell-encrusted mirrors and ruby rings and jungle-print swimwear as if they’re in a museum. “And then,” he adds, “the entire space is the gift shop, so you leave with something memorable that you can’t find anywhere else.”