NEW YORK — Forget about gilding the lily. Michal Negrin fairly drenches it.
The Israeli-born designer combines generous amounts of crystals, lace and metals into highly ornate Victorian-inspired jewelry, which is sold at Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus and ABC Carpet & Home.
Negrin's designs elicit strong passions in some people. Julie Jurist, a 25-year-old former Bloomingdale's executive, was completely smitten when she saw Negrin's cameos surrounded by glittering stones at the department store. It wasn't until she visited Negrin's 300-square-foot leased department at ABC that she realized the possibilities: yards of roses and cabbage flowers, angel and cherub figurines, florid crown moldings, chandeliers embellished with crystals and ceramic tiles painted with pale blooms.
Jurist, who furnished her apartment with the designer's uberfeminine trappings, last month opened a 600-square-foot store at 971 Madison Avenue near 76th Street. She expects it do in excess of $2 million in sales in the first year.
Decorated with a dizzying array of roses and lace, the store looks like the inside of a decoupage box, the Victorian-era craft where pattern is layered upon pattern. "I felt her concept needed to come to Madison Avenue," Jurist said. "I fell into Michal's world. I feel I can express myself through her."
Jurist, who was managing the second floor of Bloomingdale's 59th Street flagship when she discovered Negrin, was happy to change career paths. "Federated asked me if I wanted to go into the buying program," she said. "I knew it was crunching numbers. I'm happier on the floor with the customers."
She flew to Israel to meet Negrin and prove that she was serious about operating a store. "I had to convince and sell her," said Jurist, who funded the venture with a partner. Apart from 17 company-owned units in Israel, most of Negrin's 37 stores worldwide are owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. There are nine stores in Japan, two in Paris and one each in Las Vegas; Miami; San Jose, Calif.; Madrid; Sydney; Rome; Prague; Singapore, and Windsor, England. Negrin plans to open stores in London and Amsterdam.
Her company has a rigorous screening process and detailed contract for potential store owners. "The stores look the way I want them to look," Negrin said. "If someone is attached to my world the way I am, it becomes apparent. We meet hundreds of people who want to open our stores. Those who pass really believe in the products."
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