Clube Chocolate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 July, 2006, 12:00am

Where? Along the fashionable Rue Oscar Freire, in Jardins, Sao Paulo's high-end shopping district. The location may be prominent but the store's entrance is not. There are no display windows - just an unassuming sign and a heavy wooden door flanked by model-like security guards.

Fashion finds: dubbed the Brazilian Colette, the boutique stocks local designers such as Alexandre Herchcovitch and Carlos Miele along with up-and-comers such as Amir Slama. International brands also make an appearance and include Chloe, Marni and Dries Van Noten for women and Comme des Garcons and Paul Smith for men. Much of the clothing is chosen for its Brazilian flavour.

Clube Chocolate also boasts several in-house fashion lines: Estudio Chocolate features ivory knits and bright silks in its spring/summer collection, while the Chocolate Bossa autumn collection includes well-cut dresses with modern-art prints in various hues of blue, ivory and magenta. For jeans lovers, there is Chocolate Jeans.

The store also sells Givenchy couture, bright Pellat-Finet cashmeres, Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana lingerie and shoes from brands including Miu Miu, Rene Caovilla and Azzedine Alaia.

The vibe: the glitzy four-storey building is a fashion fantasy land, with an interior made from sand, local timber and concrete. Designed by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, it has a large steel spiral staircase, an atrium scattered with palm trees and an artificial beach on the lower floor. Next door to the 'beach' is a chic cafe.

The crowd: architecture buffs, Brazilian teenagers, wealthy bohemians and multinational socialites who don't dress their age.

Extras: native Indians sit in the sand making homeware and jewellery. There are iPod listening stations scattered throughout the store and the furniture in the cafe is for sale, along with high-end art books, electronics and sex toys. There are two, smaller branches - in Rio de Janeiro and Portugal - with others planned for New York and Paris. This is one of the few department stores in the world in which you can buy a toucan, in case you need one.

Clube Chocolate is at Rue Oscar Freire, 913, Jardins, Sao Paulo, Brazil, tel: 55 11 3084 1500;