Woman of Substance : Shayne Cohen

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 In addition to dressing her clients in designer apparel and exclusive products, Cohen is an active member of the community and involved in various charities.

To say that Shayne Cohen leads a fashionable life is an understatement. She and husband Felix Cohen cater to Miami’s most discerning shoppers with their successful stores at Bal Harbour Shops’ iconic Oxygene Boutique and Mini Oxygene. Aside from her day job, Cohen plays the part of wife, mother, philanthropist and self-proclaimed party-thrower – and she does it all while impeccably dressed.

Cohen seemed destined for a career in the fashion industry. “For me it’s a form of art, a way of self expression,” she said. A Fashion Institute of Technology graduate, Cohen has worked in fashion retail since age 14. Her experiences range from being a buyer at department stores in Latin America with Albert Trading to opening the Carolina Herrera store in Merrick Park. A year later, Cohen joined the team at Louis Vuitton as the ready-to-wear manager.

“Louis Vuitton was the best schooling,” Cohen said. As the RTW manager, she traveled to Paris bimonthly to buy women’s and men’s collections for the United States market. She also participated in seminars that taught buyers the true art of selling fashion.

“Louis Vuitton was determined to educate us by breathing luxury in order to understand our consumers’ lifestyle,” Cohen said. “So in Paris we always stayed in the chicest hotels and dined in the most fashionable restaurants.”

Her time with Louis Vuitton ended when she married her husband Felix Cohen, the owner of Oxygene Boutique. At the time, he was building and selling luxury homes, while his oldest son Roma Cohen was running the store but was anxious to open his own business which has now become the successful Alchemist. When the two men found themselves busy delving into other projects, Cohen jumped right in to run the Oxygene store. “My knowledge and time was needed in this family business and I’ve spent the last seven years breathing Oxygene every day of my life,” she said.

It seems this dedication has paid off. Oxygene has been dressing Miami’s chic consumers for the past 28 years and has continuously delivered the newest trends in fashion.  “Oxygene has never compromised its spark and excitement,” Cohen said.

The purveyor of high-end fashion and jewelry options, some that aren’t otherwise available in Miami, Cohen puts herself in her clients’ figurative-and physical – shoes when shopping for the merchandise at Oxygene.  “I try to imagine every situation, from dressing for a gala, to going on vacation to a jet-set city, to dinner with their [potential] future husband,to dressing for a new job,” she said.

But most of all, she trusts her instincts.

“When making selections for our store, all of my senses must be open and responsive,” she said. The Cohens are dedicated to giving their customers access to exclusives that can’t be found anywhere else.

“For this new season, we are happy to have exclusives for Thierry Mugler, Nina Ricci, Loree Rodkin, Thomas Wylde, Libertine, Nicholas Kirkwood and the newly re-launched Paco Rabanne,” Cohen said. Mini Oxygene features pint-size exclusives from the new Lanvin collection, Versace kids, Dior, Fendi, Cavalli and Sonia Rykiel. After receiving such a positive sales response at Oxygene, designers like Lanvin, Chloe, and Valentino opened their boutiques in Bal Harbour.

Oxygene Boutique’s latest endeavor is merging Oxygene and Mini Oxygene, creating a new store slated to open November 2011. The renovated location will draw inspiration from Felix Cohen’s most recent real estate project, the celebrated Three Indian Creek Island house, where shoppers will be enveloped in luxurious and rich organic materials such as mother of pearl, marble and pink onyx.

Oxygene’s website launch will coincide with the new store opening. “Felix and I just couldn’t believe that people would actually enjoy shopping for luxury without touching, smelling and experiencing the act of shopping,” said Cohen about their late Internet arrival. “But the times have proven [me] wrong. They actually love to shop from their laptop in bed with a glass of wine in their hand.”

In addition to dressing her clients in designer apparel and exclusive products, Cohen is an active member of the community and involved in various charities.

Oxygene’s next event is Fashion’s Night Out, a party at Bal Harbour Shops on September 8. This year’s benefitting charity is Women of Tomorrow, a charity helping at-risk young women rise and live up to their potential. “What I most like about this organization,” said Cohen, “is that friends and clients are not only donating their money but most importantly donating time by being mentors to these young girls.”

And the changes coming for Bal Harbour Shops aren’t slowing Oxygene down. “I’m extremely excited with the turn Bal Harbour Shops is taking. For my Jet-Set, Fashionista clients, we couldn’t ask for anything better than the opening of new stores like Balenciaga and Stella McCartney,” Cohen said. “These new stores are fresh, exciting and in their peak of the fashion hype.” Bal Harbour attracts customers just as much for the beauty as the fashion, she said. “This place is beautiful on a sunny day as much as on a stormy weather. The orchids growing on the palm trees and the water fountains with the Koi fish just really make this place. I’ve been to every Luxury retail area in the world and Bal Harbour is still my favorite.”

Cohen’s identities in the fashion world and in the community make up just two facets of her life. As a wife and mother, there’s never a dull moment in her days.

“They say your children are your best teachers. Between Felix and I, we have seven teachers- all men,” Cohen said. “I tackle it all thanks to my Yoga mat and my meditation. Otherwise, craziness.”

The successful style guru also gives credit to her staff, an important part of Oxygene’s continued prosperity.

“I have a staff of strong, hard working, beautiful women that inspire me and have been next to me from the beginning of this Oxygene challenge,” she said. Perhaps the best indicator of Cohen’s strength and passion lies in the nickname her family gave her.

“[Within] my family I am known as the ‘Balaboosta,’ a Yiddish word that describes a woman who does everything for her home to be the temple that brings together family and friends.” After sitting down with Cohen, this term couldn’t be more fitting.  While she has many demands on her time – family, the boutiques, a demanding schedule, even attending events, Cohen’s passion for fashion still shines through.

“I like the social spotlight because I love an excuse to dress up!”

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