Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

If Florence is art heaven, then consider C. Madeleine’s heaven for vintage couture and designer fashion.

C. Madeleine’s Florida boutique boasts the country’s largest collection of dazzling clothing and accessories from the past century. History is seen here through the eyes of style icons like Coco Chanel, Emilio Pucci, and Diane von Furstenberg. Don’t be surprised if you get whisked away to another place and time while ogling the collection—a time more passionate about beauty and style.

There are two things you need for C. Madeleine’s: credit and a car. Like its fashions, C. Madeleine’s is off the beaten path, about thirty minutes from South Beach. There’s not much to see in the area, so don’t blink—if you’re not looking, you’ll miss it.

Spend some time in the parking lot and you’ll be amazed at the diversity of people who shop here. The first person I saw coming out of C. Madeleine’s was a middle-aged man carrying a gold and black Versace silk shirt. He threw it in the backseat of his white Ford Taurus. (If Gianni were alive to see this, what would he say?) I imagined this same guy later that night, sporting his Versace shirt halfway open, grey chest hairs popping out, smoking a Cuban cigar at Delano’s while rolling out the hundred dollar bills to pay for drinks for the hot chicks around him.

What is wonderful—and breathtaking—about C. Madeleine’s is its sheer selection of items and the passion they evoke. Shopping there, I felt I was born in the wrong era. With 10,000 square feet of vintage heaven, one could get easily lost, if it weren’t for the meticulous attention given to each era, color, trend, and current event. Depending on the theme or upcoming holiday, clothing and accessories are showcased in vignettes throughout the store.

Highlights include Think Pink, a section dedicated to Sex and the City, and Chinioserie, which highlights Asian-influenced fashions. At my favorite section—Logorific—you can find any logo you desire: from Louis Vuitton to Chanel, it’s all for sale. And every piece is hand-selected by the owner, C. Madeleine herself.

My dream is to own a vintage Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. I have been looking for the past ten years, and the closest I came to owning one was when I was at C. Madeleine’s. The dress was right, but the size was wrong. They promised they’d keep their eye out for me and let me know when my size comes in.

Every day new pieces join the couture ranks of C. Madeleine’s, but usually not for long. Everyone from Madonna to Lenny Kravitz shops here. I was torn between a vintage yellow silk-taffeta cocktail dress and black patent Chanel loafers. But I left empty handed, not for lack of opportunity, but for lack of adherence to my precious curves. Nothing fit right.

But that’s the thrill of the hunt, after all. And if the Diane von Furstenberg dress had fit, maybe I would have been the one out later tonight, entourage, cigars, and all.

A girl has a right to dream, after all.

C. Madeleine’s

13702 Biscayne Boulevard.

North Miami Beach, Florida 33181

t 305.945.7770

www.cmadeleines.com

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