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Staff Picks by Stephen

Our In-house Experts Describe what Makes them Gush Most

Babalu Miami Superstar Stephen.

Babalu Miami Superstar Stephen.

Frescobol Paddle Ball set:  “Hit… Plat… Hit… Plat.” I love playing on the beach here in Miami and this handcrafted paddle ball set from Brasil is not only beautiful, but special. Each paddle is hand-crafted with recycled rainforest wood, each piece unique.
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Sundek:  Everyone knows Sundek has been around for a while, and let me tell you, it’s here to stay. Need some fun in your wardrobe? Bring the rainbow with these shorts. With a variety of patterns, stripes or solids you’re bound to find your shade of happy.  You’ll even find some of old school styles that are always hip and which are also my favorite.
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Soleil Organique:  If you’re are searching for a healthy-choice alternative sunblock, look no further. Soleil Organique it’s a vegan and organic sunblock, water resistant that includes green tea leaves and other botanical extracts. All na-tu-ral for organic and vegan lovers. I feel much safer and more at ease knowing that harsh unwanted chemicals aren’t flooding into my skin. I prefer to look sun-kissed without the risks of parabens, petrochemicals and animal ingredients, thank you very much. This is my first step for a perfect day out in Miami Beach.
The FB Frescobol set includes: two paddles, two balls and nylon carrying bag.

The FB Frescobol set includes: two paddles, two balls and nylon carrying bag.

SWIMMINGLY RED CARTER

Two years ago Red Carter, the freckle-faced women’s swimwear designer whose ebullient persona could upstage Isaac Mizrahi at his mom’s house, licensed his private label, Red Carter, to fashion giant Amerex Group. (They’re behind Jessica Simpson’s swimwear line, which Red also designs.)

“I’m solely creative now,” Red says happily from his showroom in New York’s Fashion District. “Before I was designing and producing my swimsuits, doing sales, and packing boxes off to Macy’s! I was getting in my own way! We were a small machine — I had five employees.”

Flush from a rave showing of Red Carter Swim 2013 collection at Mercedes-Benz Miami Swim Week, the once South Beach local reveals his modus inspiration:

“One grouping is dedicated to Miami Beach’s art deco architecture. An asymmetrical, black-and-white bustier one-piece I call “Deco” has a hand-beaded, art deco frieze. The other grouping reflects is a homage to my new home — New York. Yes, I’m living in the jungle for the first time.”

His piece called “Disco Ball” is inspired by Studio 54: “It comes from one, very late night I don’t remember.”

Born and raised in LA, Red (nee Daniel William Red Carter) grew up poolside. As a young man, he trained as a competitive swimmer, diver and water polo player. But, forever enthralled by the lavish glamour of old Hollywood cinema, he enrolled at Otis/Parson School of Art and Design to study fashion.

After graduation, Red got his big break — designing junior sportswear and activewear for Esprit in San Francisco. He was on his way! Stints at Guess Jeans, Rampage, Mossimo, Victoria’s Secret, and Oscar de la Renta gave him the designer chops to launch his namesake line of swimwear in 2004 — Red Carter, all made and sold out of his South Beach apartment.

Asked if he misses those halcyon beach days in SoBe, Red says wistfully, “I miss all my friends, but I visit. Now that I live and work in Manhattan, understand the need to get away often. It’s imperative for my sanity.”

What Red Carter loves most about Babalu: “I love the candles, especially the ones by Malin & Goetz. I think the first thing I bought at Babalu was a Fornasetti ashtray with a big eyeball!

What does he recommend for a day at the beach, for the endless summer that only happens in Miami?

1. Soleil Organique sunscreen & after-sun products

2. Recycled Sails beach bag by Save the C

3. Ipanema flip flops

5. Orlebar Brown men’s swimwear

6. FB Collection line beach towels

7. Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfumes

London Calls

Greg and Paolo in front of Paul Smith, Covent Garden

February’s the month snowbirds thaw in Miami, but this year we did the opposite — we jetted off to London for a bit of business and a trip down Memory Lane. Our home away from home was the quintessentially British Gore Hotel in Kensington, the perfect Sherlock Holmes-y setting for a pair of gents on a working R & D holiday with mum — Greg’s mom.

The Tudor Room, Gore Hotel

Note: Next to Italy, UK has more brands represented at Babalu Miami than any other country. This trip connected us with our designers/suppliers and got us closer to our DNA. Paolo got closer to his Boy George ’80s, when he discoed the night away at Taboo and Daisy Chain and worked days as a costume & set designer for the renowned King’s Head Theatre.

Adam Brown in front of Orlebar Brown flagship store, Notting Hill. Right: Orlebar Brown Spring/Summer 12 styles in store.

First up, a visit to Orlebar Brown’s flagship store in Notting Hill Gate with founder/former photographer Adam Brown. At the shop next door to our fave gourmanderie, Ottolenghi, Adam told us how he fell into the beachwear biz at an arty friend’s 40th in Rajasthan: “The women looked great; the men ghastly in horrid, brightly patterned boxer shorts with elastic waistbands, and worse, baggy board shorts with their bums hanging out.” (Not a good look for a man over 30. BTW, tennis ace Greg looks swimmingly fit in his red Orlebars.) After Adam did his research, he made a batch of 1,000 swim-to-shore shorts and sold them right out of his flat. The rest is history. OB key colors for Spring Summer 2012 pays tribute to fashionista Slim Aarons ’60s photography of the Riviera and Palm Springs and Pierre Koenig’s Californian architecture.

Ottolenghi, Notting Hill. Right: the Ottolenghi cookbook series available at Babalu.

Next day we had breakfast downstairs at Bistro 190 with FB Collection founders Harry Brantly and Max Leese. Once college roommates who dreamt of beach-ier days while toiling in London finance, they cleverly created their own niche with a high-end beach-bat business, their ode to happy frescobol-ers on the sands of Rio in Harry’s native Brazil. The pair have since expanded FB Collection to include a line of beach shorts and quick-dry linen beach towels big enough for two that knots into a sarong. Genius!

FB Collection Fine Linen Beach Towels. Right: Frescobol Paddle Sets. Handmade in Brazil from recycled rainforest wood.

Off to Comme des Garçons wiz Rei Kawakubo‘s multi-level retail store, Dover Street Market, a must-stop-shop destination for any stylista. Floors of avant-garde designer collaborations from Marimekko tees to Paco Rabanne industrial slingbags tease the eye. Greg found the place to have similar touch points to the styling of 10 Corso Como in Milan. What did we bring back? Their new eau de toilette, Dover Street Market a classic woody fragrance for men and women with notes of bergamot, mandarin, black pepper, coriander, incense, juniper berry, cedar wood, labdanum cistus, patchouli, and pine. And, fun Jack Purcell sneaks. Across the road, we popped in to the American-style bistro Automat — best Truffle Oil Mac & Cheese in London.

Dover Street Market Perfume, Comme des Garcons. Right: CdG PLAY sneakers by Jack Purcell

Automat, American Style Bistro, Dover Street

Five o’clock shadow? Must see the barber. No Anglophile’s trip is complete without stopping at Geo F Trumper, the finest traditional gentlemen’s barber in London known worldwide for its matchless range of gentlemen’s colognes and grooming products — shaving creams and soaps, aftershave balms, skin foods and moisturizers, bath soaps and shower gels, razors, shaving brushes, mirrors, hair brushes. Formidable! Yes, we carry the complete selection of Geo F Trumper’s legendary shaving cream .

Greg & Paolo in front of Geo Trumper post-shave. Da Mario Restaurant

Ah, finally, time for a pizza at Paolo’s (and Lady Di‘s) favorite Napoletano ristorante in Knightsbridge — Da Mario. It’s common lore that when la princesa began feeling a bit peckish, she often stepped out of Kensington Palace and brought Prince William and Prince Harry in for a nosh. After all, they lived in the neighborhood.

Faberge egg designed by Brazilian artist Ciao Locke, currently collaborating with FB Collection for their Summer 2012 Trunks Collection.

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