NEW YORK — Nicole Farhi today will close her flagship at 10 East 60th Street, just off Madison Avenue.

The 11,000-square-foot store, the designer’s first and largest in Manhattan, opened in 1999 and features men’s and women’s collections and Nicole Farhi Home. The centerpiece of the space is Nicole’s restaurant, situated on the lower level in a 4,000-square-foot double-height space. The 30-foot bar is visible from a dramatic wooden bridge suspended at the store’s entrance.

A spokeswoman for Nicole Farhi said the lease expired. “We were given the option to renew but declined,” she added.

The company hopes to find a location, albeit smaller, for a new store based on Farhi’s 202 retail concept. “The 202 concept is a little more cozy and intimate and has more of a lifestyle feel,” the spokeswoman said. “It has been working really well for us. [The flagship] was so big. We didn’t need a space that was so big. The lease was over and we needed to assess what would be best. We decided the store could be more productive in a smaller space.”

“We are actively searching for a new property uptown that will organically suit our needs,” said Andrea Hyde, chief executive officer of French Connection Holdings, which owns Nicole Farhi. “We are confident in the success of the Nicole Farhi concept at both the retail and restaurant levels.”

The company is targeting the Upper East Side in the 70s and 80s. “It could be anything from a small store on Madison Avenue to a town house on a side street,” the spokeswoman said. “We will open a new store within the year. It’s definitely in our plan for 2008. It just depends on how long it takes to find the right space.”

Until a new store opens, Farhi’s business will be consolidated at the 202 unit in the Chelsea Market, which was unveiled in 2004.

“We’re in the process of moving everything [inventory] to Chelsea,” said the spokeswoman. “We’ll have a bigger fashion buy there and a bigger home section.”

Farhi’s label was launched in 1982 in London, where there are now eight Nicole Farhi stores. Units have also opened in Dubai and Paris. The opening of the East 60th Street store was an attempt by French Connection chairman and founder Stephen Marks to establish the label in the U.S. But Marks admitted the store’s performance was less than he expected, and it remained problematic for the brand.

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