The Best Store in Miami: C. Madeleine’s

IMG_1523

Every holiday season, I head to my parents’ place in Miami. Yes, the heat and sunshine are fabulous this time of year — but my favorite part of this seaside retreat is the annual trip to C. Madeleine’s with my mom. Since childhood, my mom and I have spent countless hours trawling antique shows and thrift stores — and C. Madeleine’s is Miami’s best vintage clothing collection.

The interior of C. Madeline's.
C. Madeleine’s is a treasure trove of vintage and couture treasures.

If you love clothes, C. Madeleine’s is a pilgrimage destination. This was where I bought my first pair of Manolo Blahniks in 2005 — for just $40. (The prices have increased considerably since then.)

Costume designers go there to rent clothes for film productions. Designers travel there for design inspiration. Tamara Mellon, the co-founder of Jimmy Choo, recently posted a photo from her trip. (It was inspiration trip for her eponymous line of shoes, handbags and ready-to-wear.)

Tamara Mellon, the co-founder of Jimmy Choo, recently visited C. Madeline's for inspiration.
Tamara Mellon, the co-founder of Jimmy Choo, recently visited C. Madeleine’s for inspiration.

There are thousands of items to peruse — each perfectly pressed, meticulously curated and in mint condition. (I may rave about the NYC consignment scene, but I often have to get my purchases professionally repaired. Not true at C. Madeleine’s.)

The floorpan is organized by decade and designer. Early 1990s Versace? They got it. And 1980s YSL? Yup. There are plenty of non-designer, vintage duds, too. But fair warning: The prices, no matter which decade or designer, are incredibly high. (I fell in love with a $600 denim jacket, so I’m well-acquainted with the taste of a broken heart.)

The outerwear at C. Madeline's is incredible. Clockwise from upper left: Emboirdered denim jacket; Moschino suit; Roberto Cavalli fur and suede jacket; vintage molded felt peplum coat.
The outerwear at C. Madeleine’s is legendary. Clockwise from upper left: Emboirdered denim jacket; Moschino suit; Roberto Cavalli fur and suede jacket; vintage molded felt peplum coat.

Luckily, the fun of C. Madeleine’s isn’t an actual purchase. It’s the tactile pleasure of touching and trying museum-quality pieces. I saw pieces I remembered seeing in Vogue editorials back in the 1990s. This is my version of Comic Con — I was geeking out.

The shoe collection includes vintage and contemporary styles. Clockwise from top left: vintage embroidered pumps; jade and diamond sandals; plaid Manolo Blanks; denim slides with citron mink soles.
The shoe collection includes vintage and contemporary styles. Clockwise from top left: vintage embroidered pumps; jade and diamond sandals; plaid Manolo Blahniks; denim slides with citron mink soles.

One of the biggest treats? Connecting the dots between the vintage pieces and current collections. A 1950s pair of embroidered pumps looks identical to newer versions from Dolce & Gabbana, for example.

I also noticed some iconic items from TV shows. The plaid Manolo Blahniks in the photo above? They were very memorably featured on a Season 3 episode of Sex and the City. (Carrie Bradshaw wore them to the Women in the Arts luncheon so she could be as tall as Big’s new wife, Natasha.)

The vintage handbags at C. Madeline's are clearly inspiration for current designs.
The vintage handbags at C. Madeleine’s are clearly inspiration for current designs.

Despite all my gushing, I still left empty-handed. I think it might be one instance where there are too many beautiful things in a single place — there’s no way to choose just one.

And believe me, at these prices, you’re only getting a single thing at a time.

Some of the kooky hats included a fur Veruschka-style hat; a cherry topper and a church hat strewn with tiny stuffed animals that looked like Marshmallow Peeps.
Some of the kooky hats included a fur Veruschka-style hat, a droopy flower topper, a cherry cloche and a headpiece strewn with tiny stuffed animals that looked like Marshmallow Peeps.