By  on June 11, 2008

PHILLIP LIM IS BACK ON FAMILIAR TURF.

The Southern California native is launching his first Los Angeles-area store June 20 on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood — but not on the turf of paparazzi. It is in the quieter, far northern end of the street.

Lim's third standalone location is the largest at 5,000 square feet, with a stone-lined parking area in front. The 10-year lease at 631 N. Robertson Blvd. was obtained more through providence than hardball negotiation.

"We were bidding against a major fashion house, major," Lim said. "I thought, 'there's no way we can afford this or get this,' but...the landlord chose us over them."

The look of the store, designed by New York-based architects PARA-Project LLC and Giancarlo Valle of OFFICE Giancarlo Valle, is spacious, clean and modern, with curved interiors walls, 18-foot ceilings and skylights.

The space features bright-white lighting with modernistic, pyramid-shaped foam cones lining the walls — elements typically found in sound studios — and a modern take on a small English garden, with high white stucco walls and white rose bushes. It once housed an auto repair shop.

Each of Lim's stores has a different look, and the designer described his latest space as "tactile."

For Lim, known for his clean and elegant contemporary aesthetic, the opening is a homecoming. The designer lives in New York but his roots and family are in Orange County.

"I miss L.A., I do, I do, I do," said Lim, who owns property in the city and said he plans to spend more time on the West Coast after the store opens.

The first two 3.1 Phillip Lim stores opened in Manhattan's SoHo last year and in Tokyo in April, and Lim said he's looking to expand, scouting cities like Chicago and San Francisco.

The West Hollywood unit will carry Lim's full 3.1 line, including women's, men's and children's clothing, as well as his organic collection and his accessories line. Merchandise includes a tie-neck librarian blouse with rhinestone adornment for $450, a silk asymmetric double fan cocktail dress for $650 and handbags from $275 to $1,500.Though the company did about $30 million in sales last year, the economy is a concern, but something Lim said he takes in stride. That's one of the lessons he learned from his mentor — Howard Socol, the departing chairman, president and chief executive officer of Barneys New York.
"When in doubt, choose the creative, err on the side of creativity," Lim said.

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