March 24 marked the 24th anniversary of En Avance one of the most long-lived multi brand stores in Miami. Its story, as many other boutiques around the world, started with the vision and impeccable taste of Karen Quinones, an arbiter of taste.
En Avance is an all-encompassing lifestyle boutique, the ones that you enter to be inspired, when you get that shopping itch, you know when you get the 3 pm sugar crave and you don’t want Starbucks, but Laduree. It’s like a moodboard, you enter a world of style, elegance, permeated by chic, Assouline books and Maison Francis Kurdjian fine fragrances included.
The boutique has the Karen imprint allover it from Fornasetti to the Vintner’s daughter couture face oil, from Sacai to Philosophy, from Racil to Donna Karan’s label Urban Zen. The boutique tells a story with each piece hand-picked by Karen who travels extensively during fashion month to the fashion capitals and off season to places and culturally absorbs habits, colors, artisanal techniques and blends everything in a most exquisite high-brow low of taste.
The store is everything I preach in the book: slow fashion, quality, research, chic, elegant, lifestyle, fun, intellectual stimulation, understated luxury, conversation, style. And I am saying this not to flatter myself, but an another way of showing how Italian style can be lived anywhere and it’s not acquired through an hedonistic treadmill of “look at me look at me how perfectly photo-shopped I am, I look like everyone else and you should too”, but by sober normality based on taste, culture, education, curiosity that become habits. Karen is all that, her vitality, profound knowledge and exquisite sense of style perspire in every inch of her boutique.
In the occasion of the anniversary celebration, and in true En Avance style, the dynamic duo behind Arje’ was the guest of honor presenting Chapter 1 of their collection. I got to chat with them a bit as it seemed we were drawn to each other from the moment I walked into the store. For Oliver and Bessie it’s all about the origin, the essence of everything, where quality originates. They have taken the engulfed fashion system into pieces and re-elaborated the puzzle into a new formula and reinterpretation of see-now-buy-now
There’s a strong element of fluidity, the collections are chapters, that follow a person’s life and adapt to the experience and the body like rainwater, pure modern luxury. They brought the fashion system back to one single principle relationship. Through the relationship with the manufacturers, built over the years, the have the fabrics produced in the color and nuances they choose for the chapter, and they commit to buy directly the quantity they will be producing and selling, skipping the phase of the sample production, which is at the same time a financial burden that can be avoided and commitment to reduce waste and make the product sustainable.
The cultivate the relationship with the stores and buyers who buy what they see, or “feel” in Arje' language, and sell their clients right away, cutting the wait time, and providing immediate esthetic remuneration. The same way I met Oliver and Bessie during the trunk show, many others have done it during the months of March and April. Instead of selling from a showroom at closed doors, with the trunkshow formula they interact with their ideal clientele, absorb ideas, styles, suggestions, tips, taste the pulse and take notes for the following chapter.
The collections are called chapters, you may have noticed, and not seasons, because it’s not about the weather or the climate, but about the relationship with your body, you change jobs, you move to a new city or country, you change marital status, you have a baby regardless of the seasons, what changes is the essence and with that your body and style evolve.
This idea of the partnership whether is with a vendor or with your own body, is fully reflected in En Avance where you go to build your wardrobe, not to mindlessly purchase to fill in a superficial gap.
The store is that place that shows how sustainability is chic, elegant, unique, sensual, modern.