LOS ANGELES — Melrose Avenue has added a distinctly feminine flavor with the opening of Nanette Lepore's latest boutique here this week.
The 2,200-square-foot space, which is near the Diane von Furstenberg, Theory and BCBG stores, unveils a new look for the designer's retail units and is about double the size of her store on nearby Robertson Boulevard.
"We have been bursting at the seams in that store for years, so we are [delighted to have] the new space," Lepore said.
Known for highly feminine designs with detailed embellishments, Lepore's signature dresses have a following on the West Coast. The store's design has something of an updated Baroque feel and features rose-hued marble floors rather than her traditional wood floors, high ceilings, white lacquered chandeliers and custom-made Lucite chairs.
The shop stocks more jewelry at a higher price point — as much as $400— than Lepore's eight other stores. It also has a dedicated shoe area for the expanded footwear offerings and the requisite VIP touches for Hollywood celebs — a large private dressing room and a back entrance.
Most dresses retail for about $500 and shoes for $350. A crocodile print trenchcoat sells for $525.
The facade is entirely curved glass. A sweeping ramp leads from the front entrance to the main display area. The Melrose Avenue unit is the second in a three-store series that will showcase Lepore's new store concept. The first opened in Chicago last fall, and Lepore's ninth unit will launch this spring in Chevy Chase, Md., near Washington.
It took about a year for the brand to find the space on Melrose Avenue, where rents are in the $14-a-square-foot range, compared with $20 to $25 on Robertson.
"We're OK with the rent....It's steep but we consider it fair because I think we feel in line with what we can do businesswise," Lepore said. "We have a store in Las Vegas and those prices are crazy."
The space on Robertson Boulevard will be remodeled in the fall with a black color theme rather than Lepore's traditional white, for select top-of-the-line pieces.
Lepore said she expects to generate about $2.5 million annually at the Melrose store, and is doing almost that much at the Robertson shop, which opened five years ago.
"Financially, opening three stores at once is not all that tough, we just hope the economy will turn around so we won't have to worry and neither will our customers," Lepore said. "We are self-financed right now, there are no large bank loans to worry about and sales have been going really well."
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