By  on June 6, 2008

NEW YORK — Fans of Anne Fontaine's white shirts are in for a few surprises they visit the 7,500-square-foot flagship at 677 Madison Avenue here, unveiled Monday. Not least of them is the amount of merchandise that is unique to the Upper East Side location.

Of course, there are many permutations of Fontaine's signature white tops, from simple button-down blouses to ruffled shirts to styles decorated with enormous fabric flowers. Fontaine takes white blouses seriously, pinning a sachet to each shirt label and selling her White Soul linen water, fragranced with bergamot, orange and lemon, for ironing.

The flagship, with a spa opening on the third level in early 2009, is a testament to the company's expansion and the increasingly large flagships Fontaine is opening around the world. However, the designer hasn't lost interest in one-off and handmade products.

A striking component of the Andrée Putman-designed store is the entire room devoted to the Précieuse collection of 100 singular garments Fontaine is designing each season exclusively for the Madison Avenue flagship. Corresponding accessories include a black-and-white stingray handbag for $2,900.

The setting for Précieuse is dramatic, with black floors, black walls, mirrors and spotlights trained on the garments. Précieuse, priced from $1,000 to $4,000, includes a 100 percent cashmere blouse with Swarovski crystal buttons, $2,800; a black long-sleeve blouse with extra-long ruffled scarf, $2,500; a white sleeveless blouse with frilly circle appliqués, $2,700, and a glittery gray silk velvet belted vest, $2,900.

Electra, Fontaine's latest project, is also on display.

"I created a new concept for clothes," the designer said without a hint of irony. "The pieces of the garment are fastened together by zippers." The cost is $695 for the prêt-à-porter version of a knit jacket. By attaching or detaching a piece of fabric, the wearer can create a long-sleeve dress, long and short skirts, belt, bustier, halter top, halter dress and bolero jacket. The initial jacket can even be made to look different by partly unzipping the fabric strips.

Jewelry and accessories get top billing in the store. A large circular display case holds an expanded jewelry collection with butterfly shaped rings; cuff links in the form of flies, ladybugs and flowers; necklaces with large Swarovski crystal-studded pendants, lariats and bracelets. One wall of the store is devoted to a gallery of several dozen collars, which can be bought to dress up an existing top. Some are available by special order and others are one-of-a-kind.Fontaine created a one-off handbag collection for the flagship made from brown leather and the puffed and gathered fabric used in the summer ready-to-wear collection. Another group exclusive to the store consists of black leather handbags with horizontal zippers. Nougatine, off-white leather laser-cut handbags from her summer theme, "sweet delights," is sold alongside crisp white laser-cut Clothilde shirts. "I like very much to mix," Fontaine said. "I like the same fabric for bags as for clothes."

Two identical circular VIP rooms on the lower level feature sofas and chairs, a low coffee table filled with nuts and dried fruits, an iPod dock and accessories tower. Behind a curtain, there's an anteroom for friends and family to chill during outfit changes.

Plopping down on a sofa, Fontaine said, "I'm having a big boom in Asia. I have a flagship in Tokyo, but I'm looking for a new building to house the flagship and spa. I'm looking in Aoyama. I don't like the Ginza. It's too big. It's not my charming place."

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