By  on August 31, 2007

Flirty French contemporary brand Diabless is showing its legs.

After opening its first U.S. store last April in Los Angeles, the brand will launch its first East Coast store in Manhattan in late September. It will be a two-level 1,500-square-foot space at 1138 Third Avenue, between 66th and 67th Streets, said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman's retail leasing and sales division, who represented the landlord and tenant in bringing Diabless to the Upper East Side. The Los Angeles unit is at 8406 Melrose Avenue.

Diabless' U.S. expansion drive is being fueled by Diabless Holdings, a Los Angeles-based investment group formed this year that owns the brand in the U.S. Diabless, which translates to "female devil,'' is a separate company in Paris where the collection is designed and three Diabless boutiques operate. There are also boutiques in the U.K. The merchandise tends to be fun, flirty and risqué, with such hot-selling fall items as chain mesh dresses, deep V-neck wool minidresses and wide-legged, high-waisted pants.

"We will be opening stores throughout the U.S. in major cities that are right for our demographics, such as Las Vegas and Miami," said Jeffrey Steiner, who heads Diabless Holdings and confirmed the Manhattan opening. "We plan to open four stores next year and see where that takes us. We are going to put together a complete retail wholesale organization, with merchants, marketing and operational people to take Diabless to the next step."

Steiner said the brand also wholesales to about 100 specialty stores in the U.S. "It's very well received with the Hollywood set," he added.

Steiner is also the chairman and chief executive officer of Fairchild Corp., a conglomerate that designs and sells protective clothing, helmets and technical accessories for motorcycling, and distributes aircraft parts and services. Asked how someone seemingly far removed from contemporary fashion could become interested in Diabless, Steiner said he's known the collection and is a friend of its designer, Chantal Hagage. His girlfriend, Cherifa Zeggaie, is vice president of Diabless in the U.S. In addition, David Feld, who founded and ran the former Today's Man chain, has been working as a consultant to Diabless Holdings, Steiner said.Steiner declined to specify the projected volume on the Manhattan store, but said he expects it will generate several million dollars in annual revenue. Neighboring retailers include Searle, Sephora, Bare Escentuals, Zales, L'Occitane, Club Monaco, Lucky Brand Jeans, Ann Taylor Loft, Molton Brown, Bebe, Aveda and Coldwater Creek.

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