When I first walked into “L.A. Boudoir Miami,” (snuggled into the back of Via Verdi restaurant in the MiMo District,) it was as if I had accidentally stumbled onto a quaint and charming movie set. There were beautiful nicknacks everywhere, old fashion appliances and a smattering of shabby chic furniture. The most unique and inspiring vintage handbags, hats and clothing also lined the walls. Curio cabinets dazzled, too, with delicate broaches, earrings and necklaces.
Everything in the store seemed to have a special place and a special story, because its owner, Lauren Arkin (hence the L.A. in the store’s title,) makes it that way. The avid vintage collector (she’s been at it since she was a young girl,) designed her store to entice the senses and evoke a feeling of privacy.
Lauren explains it best: “I wanted it to feel like a giant closet” and it does (hence the word Boudoir in the store’s title.) I would even go so far as describing it as a Parisian-style loft with a pure Rachel Ashwell-type of energy. (Rachel is a famed English home decor designer who coined the term, “Shabby Chic.”) “L.A. Boudoir Miami” means something, too. At least, it does to me.
In a world where social media shopping, big chains and malls consume our time and interests, this boutique is a refreshing change. It’s shopping intimacy at its finest, with personal attention and a genuine understanding of its customer. The store definitely resonates with the Magic City, being voted one of the “Best of the Best” by Miami New Times, Conde Nast Traveller and Racked Miami.
It’s a solidifying accolade, especially in the now hyped-up, uber competitive world of “lightly used” everything. Over the last few years, the word “vintage” has been tossed around like a gigantic rag doll, everyone (from store owners, collectors and investors) uses it differently to suit their specific needs. As a result, it’s become one of the fastest growing fashion trends in the country, making loads of money and sometimes confusing people about how best to shop, enjoy and incorporate it into their lives.
Some people think “vintage” is “expensive couture fashion,” other says it’s “junk” or as my Deco Drive co-host, Lynn Martinez lovingly calls it: “Cool old stuff.” Actually, while there’s a bit of truth to each aforementioned description, technically speaking, it’s a reference to a “period of origin that something was made or its length of existence.”
Its value can be translated in many different ways; mainly, if it’s twenty-five years or older and has regained popularity in mainstream fashion – it’s worth something. If it’s one-hundred years or older, it’s considered an antique and more valuable than say, vintage. If we’re talking cold hard cash, items should only be given a price tag by a true, educated expert (an antiques dealer or a store owner with a lot of knowledge and experience,) but that’s not the case anymore.
Everyone seems to be buying and selling into the market of “what’s old is new again.” That’s why people like Lauren and her store are important. Her translation of “vintage” is probably one of the best and purest I’ve seen in Miami. She’s the real deal. What’s more, her concept is about affordable/functional/fashion, meaning “Everyday Vintage,” for the everyday guy or girl.
Shireen Sandoval: How is “L.A. Boudoir Miami” different than other vintage shops?
Lauren Arkin: The main concept is to offer affordable vintage. Anybody can come in and shop and not worry about breaking their bank account. I strive to carry pieces that are in the best condition.
SS: What can people find in your boutique?
LA: I carry an extensive collection of apparel, accessories and home accents for men, women and children. We also allow items to be rented out and rent out our store for photo shoots, television, theatre productions, etc.
SS: How did you get into the vintage business?
LA: Collecting vintage pieces has been my passion since I was a little girl. My mom introduced it to me and before I was born she was actually going to open up her own vintage shop. So she definitely enjoys sharing the passion. Since high school, I wanted to own my own shop and after college and a few years working for the Florida Grand Opera, the opportunity came along and I opened L.A. Boudoir Miami.
SS: Where do you procure your items?
LA: The items in the shop have come from many years of collecting. Some have been from family and others are from my travels from around the United States.
SS: What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever come across while finding treasures for your store?
LA: The most unusual things have been cobra and armadillo purses and Art Deco mammoth ivory jewelry.
SS: How can fashionistas use vintage in their everyday wardrobes?
LA: By pairing items with a unique purse or clutch, statement jewelry or using key “vintage” design elements from that certain time period. Or for those who really want to stand out, you can wear head-to-toe vintage and consider dressing the “Pin-up” look.
SS: We chose four looks (pajamas, work, going-out and brunch) for the blog. Which was your favorite?
LA: My favorite was the pajama/lingerie look because it is fun and feminine.
SS: You are known for your vintage lingerie.
LA: Since opening the shop in 2010, we have become known for vintage/retro/pinup style lingerie. We carry items from the early 1920’s such as lace bras and girdles to 1950’s and 60’s peignoir sets and slips and for those who want to be a little more daring, we have various corsets and bra and panty sets that have vintage style. We have won “Best Vintage Lingerie Shop 2011” and now recently, “Best Lingerie Shop 2015” by Miami New Times. We collaborate with local burlesque troupe, “Cupcake Burlesque” and design “Sprinkles Couture Pasties”which are unique designed pasties similar to those that the burlesque performers wear. For those who want a pair that matches a certain look or theme, we can customize a pair for you.
SS: Your store is like a movie set! I loved shooting the blog there.
LA: When I opened L.A. Boudoir Miami, I wanted to create the feeling of stepping back in time (into a different era,) which also helps the clothing and items stand out and show their true authenticity.The main room has a shabby chic/Parisian feel with an assortment of collectibles, artwork and accessories arranged on shelves above the clothing, as well as small accent furniture.”The Boudoir” room, as I call it, is the 2nd room that is filled with all the feminine and girly items such as lingerie, evening/bridal wear and the main focal point is a 1930’s vanity and chaise lounge with a steam trunk. Rare Marilyn Monroe pictures adorn the shelves along with a pair of antique burlesque feather fans.
SS: Tell me about the area of Miami that your store is located in.
LA: We’re located in a quaint neighborhood called the “Mimo District” which stands for Miami Modern in relation to the area’s architecture. Miami Modern was from the 1950’s and 60’s. Many of the buildings in the area are being preserved and brought back to their original glory.
SS: What is your most prized vintage possession?
LA: Great question. I actually have many, but my most prized is a 1930’s never been worn slip from the label “Schiaparelli.” It’s beige with beautiful lace and embroidery on top with mother of pearl buttons.
“L.A. Boudoir Miami” is great for the person who enjoys self-expression through special garments, unusual trinkets and treasures. Lauren’s strength is selling things you can easily work into every aspect of your life. Whether it’s bedtime, the work grind, an elegant dinner, a fun date or brunching on South Beach, she’s got it and wants you to flaunt it.
For the blog, we put her vintage functionality to the test. My stylist, Jackie Kay,gave Lauren four different aspects of my everyday life that I love dressing up for. Together, they styled me for television/writing, dinner dates with my boo, brunching with my bestie and lounging around my boudoir. What fashionista doesn’t enjoy laying around admiring her own closet?
The red and black office outfit, featuring clean lines and a professional feel is perfect to wear on television (the hat is, of course, optional.) The black dress with bedazzled accessories and a sleek clutch is more than dinner date worthy and yes, that vintage blow dryer really works! The cream embroidered silk shirt and pastel skirt, with a beaded pocketbook, straw hat and old school Ray-Bans is regal, but at the same time relaxing. Last, but definitely not least, the pretty pink nightgown, with the matching robe and fluffy white high-heeled slippers is perfect for my frufru fashionista personality (each look is pictured in the blog.)
One thing’s for sure, no matter how you decide to incorporate the past into your present, “Everyday Vintage” has never been so easy, effortless, affordable and of course, stylish. That’s why “L.A. Boudoir Miami” is one of my favorite things.
Shop the looks at www.laboudoirmiami.com.
FB: La Boudoir / Vintage Store
Photographer: James Woodley
Hair & Make-up: Odette Hernandez
Styling & Assist: Jackie Kay
blog ideas: Jackiekay211@yahoo.com
Editor: Matthew Auerbach