l SONIA START-UP: Sonia Rykiel is opening a 3,000-square-foot boutique today at the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, Fla. The freestanding store, the fourth of its kind in the U.S., will carry Rykiel’s women’s and children’s lines, as well as accessories. The company’s new lower-priced line, Sonia/Sonia Rykiel, will debut in the South Florida boutique. The company also plans to open more stores internationally. Next is a London store, which is slated to open before the end of the year.
l GAP VOID FILLED: As expected, Paul Pressler, named president and chief executive of Gap Inc. one month ago, has been named to the San Francisco-based firm’s board of directors. Donald Fisher, Gap’s chairman, said he would propose Pressler’s addition to the board at the time of Pressler’s appointment. Pressler’s predecessor, Millard (Mickey) Drexler, resigned his post as a director two weeks ago.
l STREET SWEEP: Beverly Hills property owners and tenants approved a $15 million improvement initiative to spiff up the five-street shopping triangle, which includes Rodeo Drive. The initiative calls for widening sidewalks and medians, adding midblock crosswalks, building street and pedestrian lights and planting more trees in a two-phase, two-year process. Approved by a two-thirds majority on Oct. 22, it includes a special tax to fund the improvements levied over a 25-year period starting early next year, when construction is slated to begin. One of the more attractive benefits of the improvements is a reduction in car traffic, according to property owners. “If you take away vehicular traffic, you’ll stimulate foot traffic, which is ultimately what retailers want,” said Chuck Dembo, a partner at Beverly Hills real estate firm Dembo & Associates.
l JAPAN FAN: Sir Paul Smith has opened his first flagship in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district. The new shop, which opened earlier this month, is also his fourth freestanding signature women’s wear store in Japan. The store, on Kotto-Dori, spans 1,782 square feet and two floors. It has a glass front, and the ground floor resembles the designer’s Notting Hill home with floors covered in gray and off-white checkerboard stone and fabric-covered walls. The upper floor has a boudoir feel, complete with a four-poster bed. Japan is a key market for the brand: approximately 65 percent of his $353 million business is generated there.