NEW YORK — For Phillip Lim, life has been a little bit unbelievable of late. After he nabbed the CFDA Swarovski women's wear award for his two-year-old contemporary label, 3.1 Phillip Lim, calls and e-mails from retailers and editors streamed in, as did invitations to a plethora of parties and events. Just as quickly, even more hip, connected young women started wearing his goods (and being photographed in them at parties). And yet, there was little time to sit back and enjoy the ride, what with collections to design, collaborative projects to fine-tune and, more immediately, details to wrap up on the first 3.1 Phillip Lim store, scheduled to open July 18 on SoHo's swanky Mercer Street here.
Incredibly, it looks as if Lim will not only be under budget on his latest endeavor, but also early — no easy feat for any designer, new or established. As of Tuesday, the store was almost finished, save for a few minor tweaks in merchandising and furniture. (For those keeping track, that's eight days in advance.) And no one is more surprised at these fortuitous turns of events than Lim himself. "People are like, 'Can you believe your life?' I tell everybody, 'It's like the stars came out and the sky opened up. And it just keeps staying open.'"
Although luck certainly played a small part, the two-floor store, which includes 1,600 square feet of retail space plus 600 square feet for an office and storage, is the culmination of Lim's consistent trajectory as a rising star, coupled with careful financial planning by his business partner and chief executive officer, Wen Zhou. This has all happened in a short period of time, but speediness seems to be Lim's m.o.
The designer found the SoHo property, formerly the short-lived boutique Space Mercer, in February and took it within a week. "It was instinctual," he says. "It spoke to us, as corny as that sounds." Finding the right architect was a quick process, too. At a dinner party that same month, he met Jeremy Barbour, who had recently finished his master's in architecture and started his own design firm, Tacklebox. "I said, 'Oh, I'm working on this store if you know any architects,'" relays Lim. "And he goes, 'I'm an architect.' I asked him to come in, and we hired him in five minutes."
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