Curiosity and a sense of nostalgia drew Bal Harbour resident Patricia Perez to the new Surfside boutique, Le Beau Maroc.
“I’m from Morocco,” said Perez, 56. “So when I saw the store, I told myself ‘I have to check this out.’”
As Perez entered Le Beau Maroc, which means “Beautiful Morocco,” the smell of orange blossoms and the sound of Moroccan lounge music reminded her of her heritage.
Perez liked what she saw. The store, she said, is “ethnic and modern.”
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The boutique, which opened over the summer, is one block from Bal Harbour Shops at 9507 Harding Ave.
Its founder and director, Asmaa Benkirane hopes the store’s variety will attract fashion driven women, like Perez, who spent almost $2,000 during her last visit.
“She became a really good customer,” said Benkirane, 28. “She comes in every time I bring new merchandise.”
Customers will find Moroccan accessories, products and attire, including handcrafted caftans — long dresses typically worn in Morocco, the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.
Benkirane’s caftan collections include beachwear, day wear or evening gowns using luxurious fabrics, including those used by Dior, Valentino, Jakob Schlaepfer and other designers.
Caftans price range from $118 to $10,000, each one-of-a-kind. Jewelry prices range from $70 to $4,000 and authentic skin line products, candles and fragrances range from $40 to $117.
“All the things that you see, they have been chosen by me personally,” said Benkirane who acts as the liaison between clientele and couture caftan designers like RENATA by Souad Chraïbi and ATELIER S by Siham Tazi, who are featured in runway shows worldwide.
“The idea is to bring the best, the ‘crème de la crème’ from Morocco,” said Benkirane.
One of her favorite caftans is on display — a lush green gown with satin silk embellished with pearls, Swarovski stones, and a velvet band. Such one-of-a-kind, custom-made caftans can take up to eight months to be tailored.
Benkirane is hoping to win a spot in Miami dressmaking world.
“I would love to see more and more women going to gala, black-tie and red carpet events wearing my gowns,” she said.
The Casablanca native grew up around expensive tags and paid attention to what people wore, especially her mother.
“When it comes to fashion, she’s my inspiration,” Benkirane said.
Benkirane, who has a bachelor’s degree in hospitality from Kendall College in Chicago, moved to Miami four years ago.
Benkirane decided to let her Spanish Moroccan heritage and love for fashion steer her away from a career in hospitality. The idea to open the store arose while undergoing management training at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort and her work associates took a keen interest in buying domestic Moroccan oils.
“Everything started with the oil,” Benkirane said with a smile. “People loved it. So I started developing my own idea — to bring the caftan.”
Le Beau Maroc
Address: 9507 Harding Avenue, Surfside, Florida, 33154
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 to 6 Friday and noon to 9 Saturday
Contact: 305-763-8847 or www.lebeaumaroc.com