By  on August 31, 2007

BEVERLY HILLS — Maison Martin Margiela has opened its ninth boutique on a quiet stretch of South Santa Monica Boulevard here. Like the brand, the store flies just under the radar, occupying a signless white space that previously housed a church.

The 2,000-square-foot light-filled space has both existing elements of other boutiques and unique features, such as the shoe display in the front room and a 13-foot-high pyramid made from 6,000 champagne flutes. The store also features the old church doors, which were cut to fit clear shelves, as well as the original exposed pipes and beams.

Customers familiar with Margiela's stores in Tokyo, London, Paris and New York will recognize the chain of thrift store sofas and chairs, covered by one continuous white slipcover.

Although the boutique has opened this week, there are already footprints on the white carpeting, stamped intentionally with one of Margiela's signature Tabi boots dipped in black ink.

"Our stores are always a variation on a theme," said spokesman Patrick Scallon. "And we try to extend the atmosphere of our Paris office to our more far-flung shops."

To that end, the walls in the second, larger room are covered with trompe l'oeil wallpaper scanned with black-and-white images of the walls of Margiela's old office space in Paris. The concrete floors are covered with a material that mimics whitewashed hardwood flooring.

The larger space features a 10-by-10-foot mirrored cube that houses two women's dressing rooms in the center of the room. Playing on the mirror tones, there are silver mannequins covered in clear vinyl instead of white muslin, and words stenciled in silver paint on the walls. A small private dressing salon fills out the store, which connects to the boutique Mameg through a short hallway.

The house was founded by the Belgian designer in 1988, but the first Margiela boutique did not open until 2000 in Tokyo.

"Los Angeles is something that has always intrigued and interested us, but we took our time," Scallon said.

As for the store's quieter location at 9970 South Santa Monica Boulevard, on the western border of Beverly Hills, Scallon said the company has a history of choosing less mainstream destinations as much because of finances as an underground aesthetic. Even Hollywood fans of the brand choose to wear it on off-duty days rather than on the red carpet.The company was independently-owned before being acquired in 2002 by Renzo Rosso's Only the Brave Srl, which controls Diesel, Sophia Kokosalaki and manufacturing arm Staff International, the producer and distributor of Dsquared. Margiela grew to earnings of 55 million euros, or about $70 million, in 2006.

The next boutique is slated to open in Milan on Sept. 25, and after that, the company is exploring locations such as Russia.

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