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PARIS — Where to put the Chinese lanterns?

This story first appeared in the February 14, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Those were among the dozens of questions Loulou de la Falaise juggled Thursday afternoon as dozens of workers scurried to ready her signature fashion boutique for its grand opening today at 7 Rue de Bourgogne here.

To be sure, Chinoiserie figures prominently as a theme — with a dash of Egypt and a soupçon of Africa — in the 1,600-square-foot, two-level shop, decorated in an eclectic, colorful style by her brother, Alexis.

There is a lot for the eye to absorb: Antique Chinese cabinets and modern accessory cases in glass and red lacquer stand against walls painted robin’s egg blue and mustard — with a band of burgundy in between. A staircase painted mint green and carpeted in red winds its way up a loungy area with floral chiffon curtains billowing onto the floor and a burgundy sofa decorated with brocade pillows depicting camels and other exotica.

“It’s rather full of fantasy, the whole thing,” de la Falaise allowed, surveying the store from her perch on a red stool printed with gold butterflies. “The idea is to have fun. I like the idea of a shop looking a bit like a house.”

But there will be merchandise everywhere: sweaters in the Chinese cabinets, jewelry inset in wall-mounted cases and ready-to-wear filling racks of painted bamboo. De la Falaise said she prefers to “mix things up” to encourage people to linger, have a coffee or a glass of champagne. “The idea is to have fun,” she said.

And buy something. De la Falaise’s assistants were still finalizing prices, but they range from $190 for horn and gold-leaf bangles, to $610 for a wrap blouse, to $1,060 for satin jacquard trousers. (Prices are converted from euros at current exchange rates.) Double-layer cashmere sweaters are about $950, while a three-piece mannish pantsuit runs about $4,300. A made-to-measure service will also be offered.

De la Falaise declined to give first-year sales projections for the shop, which she said is self-financed. After 30 years as the muse of Yves Saint Laurent and a chief creative aide, de la Falaise opted to launch a signature collection, sold initially only at the Left Bank shop, which has offices and design studios above.

The retired couturier, his business partner Pierre Bergé, Catherine Deneuve and Hedi Slimane are among the glitterati expected tonight at a cocktail to toast the worldwide debut. De la Falaise is mulling a larger press event during Paris Fashion Week, March 6-5.

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