By  on May 24, 2007

NEW YORK — Stacey Bendet has big ambitions in retail.

The designer of contemporary collection Alice + Olivia opened her second Manhattan location, at 219 Mott Street, Friday in the heart of the NoLIta neighborhood. The 700-square-foot store, though much smaller than the 1,800-square-foot flagship at 80 West 40th Street that launched in September, marks the beginning of a retail expansion plan that is intended to eventually showcase the Alice + Olivia collection in freestanding stores across the U.S.

"It's a very busy time, but it's also such a great time for the company," Bendet said in an interview at the Mott Street store.

This store is Alice + Olivia's fourth retail unit, including locations on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles and a new store in Southampton, N.Y. There are plans to open in an old lumber yard in Malibu, Calif., and in Las Vegas in the soon-to-be built W hotel.

Bendet said she chose the location of the Mott Street store for some selfish reasons.

"I love the neighborhood and the space reminds me of a cute little jewel box,'' she said. "I also go to yoga every day just down the street, so it's great to have my store right here. After yoga I can come here, which I love."

To keep with her jewel box theme, Bendet chose gold for the pop color of the store. Mostly designed in black and white, there's a gold bowl on a table that holds white and black M&Ms. Gold shelves line a wall, and a gold sequin dress is showcased on a mannequin. Also, since the store is on the small side, Bendet said she will use this location to showcase a "well-edited mix" of the collection as well as some exclusive items. She said she also will sell an Alice + Olivia candle, made just for her New York stores, as well as her new yoga collection, which includes leggings, tanks and supersoft zip-ups. The line retails from $88 for leggings to $980 for shearling coats.

In addition to the Mott Street space, Bendet this week opened a new 1,000-square-foot store on Jobs Lane in Southampton, which relocated from East Hampton, N.Y."The Southampton space is just in a better location," she said. "East Hampton was becoming a bit too commercial and I didn't want my store to be mixed into that. Also, there's an apartment above the Southampton space, so my employees can actually stay there over the weekends, which makes things much easier."

The Southampton boutique features the brand's signature collection along with expanded beachwear, the yoga line, an extensive eveningwear assortment and select pieces from its men's cashmere sweater collection, Anthony + Mo. The boutique also sells treats from Dylan's Candy Bar, Angel Jackson handbags and Scoop ballet flats.

The space is designed with a mix of midcentury Mod and ornate antiques. There are stark white walls and vintage furniture, lacquered and reupholstered to create a modern feel. The black and white decor is accented with hot pink touches. The chrome ottoman, dark mirrored cash register and black crystal chandelier were all custom designed and hand-painted by Bendet herself. At the center of the boutique sits a refurbished bergère chair in Celerie Kembel's black crocodile fabric. A hot pink graffiti mural by renowned artist Senz covers the fabric, creating a sleek and contemporary design.

Launched in 2002 with a pair of the "perfect pants," Bendet's business has grown dramatically to become a more than $25 million business, with the help of her business partner, Theory founder Andrew Rosen. Bendet anticipates further growth with sales reaching more than $40 million next year. The Alice + Olivia brand is now sold in more than 450 specialty stores worldwide, including Barneys New York, Scoop, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Harrods and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.

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