By  on March 7, 2011

PARIS — Michael Kors is marking his 30th anniversary with the opening of his first freestanding store in France, a flagship here that is his largest store to date worldwide.

The 7,000-square-foot unit at 279 Rue Saint-Honoré sits on the designer’s favorite retail stretch — what he calls the “stroll from Hermès to Colette.”

It is the first of his stores to offer a full assortment of accessories and ready-to-wear from both his main Michael Kors collection and the Michael Michael Kors and Kors Michael Kors lifestyle lines.

“I love the yin and yang of something indulgent and something casual,” Kors told WWD.

This spirit extends to the architecture of the light-filled boutique, which melds historic French architecture with his signature modern luxe aesthetic — think a Louis XV-style armchair coated in silver rubber next to a real zebra skin rug or a lamp with a rock crystal base.

Kors’ return to the French capital, where he worked as rtw designer and creative director of Celine from 1997 to 2004, is part of a global expansion strategy that should see the company’s network of freestanding stores rise to 200 by the end of 2012 from around 175 at the end of this spring. Up next is a lifestyle boutique on Regent Street in London.

The ground floor of the Paris store is home to accessories and fragrance, with a space in the back under a large skylight dedicated to Michael Michael Kors rtw. The basement serves as a showroom.

The first floor houses clothing and accessories from the main collection, and features a lounge corner with Knoll sofas and a marble-and-chrome coffee table.

“We wanted all of this to feel fresh. So much of Paris gets very dark when you walk into retail spaces here,” said Kors, flinging open a French window overlooking the street.

“As an ex-smoker I can say this: How divine — if you’re really desperate, you can open the window, which I love. If a model is shopping, she can hang out the window and have a puff,” he laughed.

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