By  on November 2, 2007

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Designer Jenni Kayne has embraced retail.

Kayne last month opened her first store in a 2,500-square-foot space at 641 North Almont Drive here, between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. Hers is the only apparel store on a block populated by furniture stores and art galleries. In fact, it is much like Melrose Place was before designers began flocking to that street.

"I always wanted to open a store and was interested in Melrose Place before all the stores signed on there,'' Kayne said. "Now I think it's special to be a little off Melrose and the only clothing store on the block, yet there are still great retailers nearby.''

The boutiques Maxfield, Seaton, James Perse and Costume National are around the corner on the western-most stretch of Melrose Avenue. And customers who frequent the galleries and furniture stores tend to be her customers, as well, she said.

Kayne, 25, who started her business four years ago, quickly made a name for herself by dressing friends like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Rachel Bilson, Nicole Richie and Hilary Tisch. Her clothes retail in Neiman Marcus, Curve and Intermix, among others.

The store, which architect Jeff Allsbrook gutted and filled with eco-friendly touches like a bamboo ceiling, is similar to Kayne's own Beverly Hills home — earthy and timeless. The space also seems bigger than it is because of the high ceilings and racks that hug the walls.

"I was actually only looking for a 500- to 1,000-square-foot store, but I can really grow into this,'' said Kayne, who plans to expand into kids' and men's wear in the next year.

In addition to her apparel and cashmere blankets, which retail for $150 to $4,000, the store carries the footwear line she produces for Report. The shoes, which Kayne designs for her runway shows, don't retail anywhere else. Other exclusives include her bestseller for fall, the short-sleeve coat, in special fabrics and colors.

Kayne also sells her favorite things, from coffee table books that change seasonally to vintage jewelry and new jewelry by her friends Lena Wald and Tom Binns and her mother-in-law's line, Irit. There are also perfumes by L'Artisan, sunglasses by Benjamin and tights by Wolford."I want it to be really convenient,'' she said. "I don't think people have time to drive around to several stores putting together a look.''

Kayne has a first-year sales goal of $2 million. If the store does well, she plans to open a unit in New York.

"I'm looking forward to customer feedback as the collection evolves,'' she said.

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