By  on September 22, 2005

NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta is having his Miracle Mile moment.

Tonight the designer will be celebrating the opening of his latest boutique at the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y., with a private party at the store benefiting the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club. The Locust Valley, N.Y., charitable organization serves 250 youths daily by offering them a place to unwind with sports, education and leadership initiatives.

The new de la Renta boutique, measuring at more than 2,000 square feet of selling space, is in a spot previously occupied by Yves Saint Laurent and is de la Renta's fourth unit. Much like the designer's other stores, the corner boutique has a bright and airy feel, with natural light streaming in from two sides, and features such as coral stone and plaster palm trees.

Alex Bolen, Oscar de la Renta's president and chief executive officer, said the Americana was a natural choice for retail expansion.

"As we look at areas to open retail stores, we look for two things: a place with an affluent local customer and also active and affluent tourist traffic," he said. "The Americana Manhasset mall is absolutely one of those places, as evidenced by the other brands which have chosen to open there."

Over the past year, the company has embarked on an aggressive freestanding retail growth strategy, having opened units on Madison Avenue; in Bal Harbour, Fla., and in Las Vegas. Bolen explained that one of the reasons to make a push into freestanding stores was to eventually be able to expand its business in Europe. In the U.S., he said, the company has "tremendous opportunities" to further increase its business with wholesale accounts such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. He added that, in Europe, "there is no Saks or Neiman's, so to have a meaningful business, it's either through specialty stores or with our own stores. Before we move into places where we don't speak the language, we should make sure we have a retail concept that's compelling, so we wanted to try a few places here first."

Next on the national list would be a Southern California unit, but the company also is looking to find the right location for its first store in Europe, which likely will be located in a capital city such as London, Paris, Moscow or Madrid.As for the Manhasset store, Bolen couldn't give sales projections, but said: "We have high hopes for the store, and think it could be one of our best performers."

He added the Madison Avenue unit was projected to do $1,500 a square foot, and exceeded that number "substantially."

"We hope to be able to do similar numbers at Manhasset," he said.

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