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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.)
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.