By  on March 5, 2007

WASHINGTON — Neiman Marcus opened its third Cusp store in this city's Georgetown neighborhood last week and revealed that the fourth location will be launched in Northbrook Court, near Chicago, in July.

Neiman's kicked off the specialty concept last summer with stores at Tysons Corner Center, in a Virginia suburb of Washington, and Century City in Los Angeles. The plan is to test Cusp with four stores and then evaluate the concept and the potential rollout.

Aimed at the fashion savvy 25- to 45-year-old woman, Cusp tries to make it easy to put together hip casual looks, grouping similar dresses together, regardless of brand, with appropriate accessories. There also is plenty of denim in blue and other hues, matched with tops.

Some tweaks are already being made to the size of the stores and the fixtures.

Cusp's tightly edited, trendy product mix is merchandised around looks rather than vendors and has remained fairly constant across the three existing locations.

The two-story, 7,300-square-foot store in Georgetown, with neighbors such as Anthropologie and Intermix on M Street NW, is smaller than its mall-based siblings. The Tysons Corner unit is 9,500 square feet, but has the same aesthetic. The Georgetown store features exposed duct work, cinder block walls and sculptures that incorporate materials ranging from computer components to table legs.

"This is what we think is going to be appropriate going forward, a little smaller format," said Wayne Hussey, senior vice president of properties and store development at Neiman's.

"This store is a little bit more intensely merchandised than the other two stores because it's a smaller format, and after opening the first two, we edited some of the fixturing."

For example, displays of handbags hanging from ropes that can be raised or lowered like the rigging of a ship are still being used, but to a lesser extent than in the other stores.

The Georgetown shop, in a college neighborhood of high-end restaurants and charming town houses, also has a more traditional shoe department than the first store at Tysons Corner, which tested a self-serve concept with stacks of shoeboxes for the picking. Beauty products, which had been sold from shelves at Tysons Corner, are receiving more prominent display.Prices range from $15 for some beauty products to $1,200 for handbags. The store's major brands are Diane von Fursten­berg, Seven For All Mankind and BCBG Max Azria.

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