You can’t miss Balenciaga’s new Design District flagship in Miami: Surrounded by palm trees, a twee coffee cart, and all the design elements of a classically suburban outdoor mall, the store emerges from within Paradise Plaza, encased in silvery metal columns—a brutalist structure sandwiched between two galleries.
The label, which previously had two separate locations in Miami for its men’s and women’s collections, will reopen its doors on November 15 as one comprehensive shop; its largest U.S. retail space to date. Design-wise, the two-story, 8,500-square-foot flagship encapsulates what Balenciaga refers to as an “experiential Raw Architecture concept.” When I visited the multilevel shop in the flesh, just days before it was due to open to the public, that language—vague, but also beautifully lyrical—made sense.
The store’s interior has the feeling of a distinctly unfinished piece of architecture—and that is intentional, reps from Balenciaga explained to me. The first level, which still bears an Art Deco tiled floor from years past, is meant to look like it’s in a state of decay (an idea that calls to mind Balenciaga’s spring 2023 runway show, which took place in a massive pit of mud). Overhead, rafters are exposed, evoking a movie set.
Upon silvery metal shelves stand Balenciaga’s current lineup: its collaboration with Adidas, including duffel bags, sock heels, the Hourglass handbags and (why not?) branded bowling balls; a selection of Crush and Cagole bags in every color imaginable; motorcycle boots in a shade of traffic-cone orange exclusive to the Design District store; and looks from this season’s ready-to-wear, like sumptuous faux-fur coats, Batwing-style sunglasses, oversize trenches with broken buttons, and the blue glove-sleeve stretchy gown Kim Kardashian wears in Balenciaga’s fall 2022 campaign.
Speaking of Kim, naturally, she wasn’t too far from the ground level. Up a winding staircase (which features a light installation on the ceiling that changes color based on the time of day), a screen showing Kardashian in blue—along with her fellow campaign stars Alexa Demie, Khadim Sock, and Kim Yeon-koung—welcomes you to the second floor, which houses the maison’s men’s category. (Although, technically, it’s worth noting that everything in the Balenciaga store is strictly genderless; I ended up spending most of my time on the upper level trying on suit jackets with huge shoulders, oversized denim sets, and the Rhino, a shoe of clownish proportions.) There, you’ll find an original work by the artist Charlotte Thrane, who made a cluster of upcycled mattresses and cushions placed in the middle of the room, as well as a bubbles of black resin oozing out onto the floor, resembling clusters of volcanic goo.
To celebrate its opening, the new store will feature a personalization service for its Le Cagole bag. Clients can opt for a monogram of their choice to be stamped onto the purse’s removable zipper pouch. But exclusive offerings aside, the Design District location is clearly an important part of this label’s identity. The design concept represents an amalgamation of all the signatures that make Balenciaga what it is today—that is, a brand central to pop culture. It is a true reflection of Demna’s vision: one that is totally singular, omnipresent, grounded in celebrity, and—as always—perfectly wonky.