Just add water

06/05/2014 10:00 AM

05/21/2014 2:29 PM

Its namesake Italian island may be thousands of miles away, but the ultra-modern 100% Capri at Bal Harbour Shops captures the European hot spot’s easy sophistication beautifully, with items made of just one fabric: linen. There are simply cut dresses, blouses, shirts and slacks—all in a white as brilliant as a sail reflecting off Miami’s summer sun. There are button-downs in subtle but totally distinctive Mediterranean blue, blazers in sandy cream shades. There are fedoras, tote bags and bikinis, all begging for a Campari and a convertible. And tucked in the back of the store are fresh bedding sets that have lazy mornings written all over them. Even Capri’s famed bougainvilleas get a nod, with bright orange and pink handkerchiefs and blouses that dot the store’s displays.

While a new summer 2014 collection features an innovation—linen treated to look like denim—the shop already boasts linen in 25 different weaves and textures. It is, to say the least, the star of the spa-like clothing and home ware boutique. “Linen is my passion,” said 100% Capri founder and owner Antonino Aiello, 39. “It’s my mission to help people understand its functionality. It’s an organic, 100% natural fabric and it’s really the only one to wear in hot weather.”

Aiello founded his company in Capri, a sunny island off the coast of southern Italy, 12 years ago. Born into a family who mass-produced textiles in Sorrento, he wanted to focus his own venture on quality, producing small, exclusive, carefully curated resort wear. He bought a flax farm in Normandy, France, the global hub for the crop that produces linen, and engaged carefully chosen Italian masters to hand-make his pared-down designs under his exacting supervision. Aiello admits he wants nothing less than to become “the king of linen. When people think red, they think Ferrari,” Aiello said. “When they think linen, we want them to think 100% Capri.”

He may get there soon enough: with 10 stores already operating in places that double as playgrounds for the wealthy, including St. Barths, Capetown in South Africa and Beverly Hills, he’s got a new store opening in Dubai in September and online shopping on his website is scheduled to launch in the Fall.

So how did he find his way to Miami? Seven years ago, after reading an Italian newspaper’s favorable account of the city, he decided to open at Bal Harbour Shops. “I think la dolce vita lifestyle is no longer in Italy, it’s in Miami,” he said. “There is all this young power in the city, the economy is fantastic and the energy is spectacular.”

100% Capri at Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour; 305-866-4117; 100x100Capri.com.

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