From boutiques to baby
08/15/2013 12:00 PM
08/15/2013 12:37 PM
A lot of attention has been devoted to hipster parents, those tattooed and bearded Brooklynites who fight for their right to own backyard chickens and be hands-on dads. Unlike their louder and prouder counterparts, there’s an even smaller subset of paradoxical parents: the impossibly chic insiders of the global art and fashion circuits. The transition to parenthood is never a walk in the park, with a stroller no less, but what happens to these couples when baby makes three?
Roma and Erika Cohen, the married proprietors behind a pair of avant-garde boutiques both called Alchemist on the 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage’s ground and fifth floors in Miami Beach, encountered this conundrum with the birth of their first child, daughter Lila Jae in April. Adding to the stress, they were expecting her in conjunction with the launch of their second venture, a larger lifestyle store concept during Art Basel, their busiest time of the year. “We don’t eat or sleep then. It’s physically and emotionally draining,” says Roma, of the whirlwind week that sounds awfully similar to being new parents. “We’re used to a dozen things coming at us at once.”
With such a hectic schedule between buying trips and store events among regular day-to-day operations, the Cohens knew they wanted Lila to be part of their lifestyle, to “come along for the ride,” as they put it, passport required. So at less than three months old, she jetted off to Paris for couture week, where her mom and dad previewed next season’s Dior, Saint Laurent and Rick Owens, among their selection of designer brands. Afterward, she met her French cousins from Roma’s side of the family. “Our other pact was to become healthier,” says Erika, who, determined to shed the baby weight, starts each day with back-to-back classes at P2 Pilates and Flywheel before picking up Supa Dupa Vert juices at Jugofresh for Roma, who quit smoking to demonstrate his commitment to a healthier life. “We try to eat more vegetarian, too, though we joke about that including the deep-fried avocado tacos from Huahau’s near our stores.”
The young, stylish family allowed Indulge a peek into their new routine that now revolves around designer baby clothes and strollers and Lila’s first swim, all while running two of the world’s most elite fashion destinations.
First give us a little background. How did you meet? Roma: Ten years ago I was working at my father’s store Oxygene in Bal Harbour, and she saw a Pucci bikini in the window. That’s how she acquired the nickname Pucc.
Erika: A mutual friend in Coral Springs, where I’m from, gave him my number. I was supposed to move to New York after graduating from Boston University, but he convinced me on Miami instead.
Roma: Her business degree really comes in handy. She does all the books rather than hiring a controller.
Why did you open your own stores versus taking over the family business?
Roma: As a teenager, I worked in a surf shop in South Beach and always dreamed of opening a store on Lincoln Road, which was so cool then. I just knew it would come back eventually. We also had our own darker, edgier style that we wanted to express and promote.
Erika: I worked as a fashion and beauty editor, so it was the natural next step to tell stories through merchandise. I still apply that skill especially in our upstairs location’s themed exhibits and collections that rotate seasonally.
What are some examples?
Roma: During Miami swim week in July, we hosted an event for Lorenzo Martone’s bicycles with signature red chains inspired by Christian Louboutin’s red soles. 4141 Design in the Miami Design District collaborated by offering Memory chairs that look like crumpled tin foil by designer Tokujin Yoshioka for Moroso. And to emphasize the intense creative rivalry between Hedi Slimane, creative director of Saint Laurent, and Raf Simons, creative director at Christian Dior, we installed a skate ramp, where a metaphorical face-off might take place.
Since the store is also known for art, what do you have planned there?
Erika: Contemporary painter Kehinde Wiley will show through our annual Art Basel exhibit produced by Sean Kelly Gallery in New York. In fact, the art dealer’s daughter, who grew up surrounded by Marina Abramovic’s gory works, gave us the okay to purchase Yoshitomo Nara’s lithograph of a doll’s head being ripped off for Lila’s nursery. We got her all these fun baby art books, too, full of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jeff Koons.
What else did you score for her?
Roma: The owners of Chrome Hearts, the American luxury brand, sent us a killer diaper bag that I would actually carry. It’s black suede with sterling silver zippers and has Lila’s name stitched in Old English letters.
Erika: I also became a fan of Jessica Alba’s eco diapers, creams and wipes through her Honest Company website and have a ton of it at home. Roma: But Lila’s most exclusive possession is probably the white minimal stroller by Mima that my dad brought home on the plane from Paris. As the first grandchild and girl—I have five brothers!—she’s a bit spoiled.
Is she already rocking serious style?
Erika: Oh, yes she is. The baby versions of Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian-themed lace dresses for women are so sweet, and I can’t get enough of Stella McCartney’s children’s line, especially her printed tees.
Roma: And Miami jewelry designer Luis Morais gave her a pink beaded bracelet with her initials and a heart diamond. Considering all the current innovation in kids’ stuff, I’m really embracing this baby thing.
How about your style? Has it changed as a result of becoming parents?
Erika: Roma always described my clothes as ‘pregnant-looking’ even when I wasn’t. For example, I wore a pleated kimono by Rick Owens during a Basel party that I would have worn regardless of whether or not I was expecting. I’ve always gone for a sexy, flowy Saint Laurent blouse over something skin-tight.
Roma: I favor minimal as opposed to theatrical men’s wear, so I work, sleep and travel in Rick Owens, which is really comfortable if you have kids. I’m excited about his upcoming collaboration with Adidas to make real athletic versus his former fashion sneakers. I still tend to like smaller, cultish labels, too, like Julius from Japan or MA+ for leather pants and motorcycle boots.
Erika, do you have any fashion tips for expecting or new mothers?
If you don’t want to go the maternity clothing route, Givenchy makes many loose silhouettes, and Celine is awesome for modern, functional dresses all with pockets because designer Phoebe Philo is a mom who gets it. She also created mink-lined Birkenstock-style sandals dubbed ‘furkenstocks’ that I was extremely grateful for during my last trimester. Roma: I thought they were ridiculous especially for a spring/summer item, but Erika insisted we order them. Good thing, too, because they were a hit at the store.
What’s a typical date night?
Roma: After Lila was born, our first night out was drinks with other new parents at Soho House.
Erika: We usually go to dinner and a movie on Sundays.
Roma: It’s funny because we never made time for one before becoming parents.
Where else do you like to hang out?
Roma: We’re really into all the new spots in Sunset Harbour like Lucali pizza and Ice Box. Umami burgers are amazing, too. Most likely we’re at our new house’s pool since Lila’s a water baby. Her first swim was on Father’s Day.
After traveling so much for work, do you prefer staying home or taking vacations to unwind?
Roma: Working in Europe a lot, it’s easy to steal a few days for a quick side trip. Erika often reminds me that we didn’t take a proper honeymoon, so we also plan bigger annual excursions and have visited many places like Istanbul, Hong Kong and the Amalfi Coast. Erika: For this year’s summer vacation, we chose Corsica, which has gorgeous, crystal clear water. Roma’s relatives recommended a place in Porto-Vecchio.
What’s it like living, traveling and working together constantly?
Roma: Many people would think it’s tough, but I actually get lonely on the sales floor and will go back into the office to see Erika. I’d bother her all day long if I could.
Erika: It’s true!
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