By  on May 22, 2007

HONG KONG — Stella McCartney has a four-day rule.

"I don't want to be away from the kids for more than four days," said the designer, who has two young children at home in London. The rule means McCartney has to pack a lot into any overseas trip. That was certainly the case when she arrived here for an event-filled visit that included parties, fashion shows, trunk shows, press junkets and the Asian launch of her skin care line, Care by Stella McCartney.

Last week, McCartney's company unveiled a deal with Lane Crawford Joyce Group that will lead to 10 freestanding Stella McCartney stores in the region. The first will open next year, most likely on Hong Kong Island. Executives from McCartney's company, along with representatives from Lane Crawford, scouted prospective retail locations during the designer's visit.

"Stella is a special brand so we want to find a location that's right. If we find a place where we have other brands, then it's good synergy, but it's important to treat Stella separately," said Angela Cheng, who works in LCJG's distribution arm as brand manager for Stella McCartney. Cheng said there are plans to open stores in Hong Kong (where there will be two); Taiwan; Jakarta, Indonesia; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Macao, and Mainland China, starting with Shanghai and rolling out to Beijing.

McCartney said her tight schedule didn't allow her to investigate too much of Hong Kong's retail scene, but what she had seen made an impact. "I have been very impressed," said McCartney. "I didn't have any expectations coming here — it's best to go to a new city without expectations — but the retail spaces here are so tasteful and they really have the best brands. I'm quite proud to be present here. It makes me feel grown-up, actually."

Grown-up she might be, but McCartney is still youthful enough to enjoy a good party. Lane Crawford hosted a huge bash on the top floor and roof of an old warehouse building in the fishing village of Aberdeen, importing a rock band, DJ and break-dancers for the occasion. Each room featured different light displays, including Chinese lanterns on the roof, LCD displays in the disco and dangling lightbulbs in the billiards room, where models wore a limited edition T-shirt McCartney designed exclusively for the Hong Kong Lane Crawford. There are only 200 of the oversize pink shirts, which are nearly sold out.Lane Crawford Hong Kong is also home to the first Care by Stella McCartney beauty counters. The initial location is at Lane Crawford's Times Square store, in the busy shopping district Causeway Bay. McCartney presided over the unveiling of counter number two at the upscale mall Pacific Place in the Central district. The space features clean, white, slightly curved walls; clear glass shelves; one backlit advertisement, and minimal decor.

"It's simple," said McCartney of the counter and the product range it sells. "I don't like things too complicated, especially in the bathroom."

Her style can even be seen in the uniforms worn by the counter's staff. Each salesperson dons an organic cotton jumpsuit designed by McCartney. "I can't relate to beauty [marketing] that is too chemical with women in white coats," she said, adding that she hopes to add eye care and makeup to the Care range, although there are numerous obstacles to overcome to make such products organically.

"I hate the word — but we are a lifestyle brand. We don't make compromises and we don't make life easy for ourselves. I'm not saying we're pure as the driven snow, but we do have principals," said McCartney, who added, "I gave myself a goal at an early age saying I'd love to go into makeup, but that's a real challenge. It's mineral-based and it's hard to get the colors right. I'm all for limiting things anyway."

On the other hand, her work for sportswear giant Adidas is showing no limits. The partners are extending their deal until 2010 to produce Adidas by Stella McCartney, adding a new category, Gym Dance, to their current repertoire. While in Hong Kong, McCartney participated in a question-and-answer session to promote the line while models and dancers showed off the performance aspects of the pieces.

She posited that one reason her collaboration has been successful is that she tries to find a balance between fashion and performance. "There are many other collaborations where it's all about fashion. I can do T-shirts and sweatpants in my own collection. This is an honest collaboration," she said. Maria Sharapova will wear one of McCartney's designs for Adidas tennis at the upcoming French Open tournament.About the only thing McCartney said she won't be doing is creating products just for Asia. "The world is one place — coming here reinforces that," she said.

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