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NEW YORK — Brazilian designer Carlos Miele doesn’t just believe in staying true to his roots — he believes in flaunting them.
This story first appeared in the June 9, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Miele, whose first U.S. flagship opened Friday at 408 West 14th Street, channeled his heritage as well as his love of art, expression and the human form into his store’s design.
“I wanted the store to reflect this idea of the expanded body,” said Miele, on site supervising the construction in the 3,800-square-foot space. “The idea was to use a different language, like architecture, to express the body.”
Miele and his team of architects — Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture of Asymptote — have done just that by creating a winding sculpture through the store, artsy video installations and suspended “floating” mannequins. Each represents the human form in one manifestation or another.
The glossy, white space is an ideal backdrop for Miele’s colorful clothes. The architects worked to develop more of an art space than a traditional retail environ. “We wanted to create a space that was a canvas in which Carlos could operate,” Couture said.
They designed seating alcoves in the store in an effort to recall the social gatherings of the piazzas in Miele’s native Brazil, so shoppers might sit in clusters socializing.
“I wanted to create a bridge between different cultures and bring something new to the area,” said Miele.
The designer himself is also something of a celebrity back home in Brazil, where he owns 93 stores called M. Officer, has 600 in-store shops and does approximately $60 million in sales annually. Now he’s set on expanding his wholesale business in the U.S. and is looking next to open a showroom here as well.
Retail prices for Miele’s designs range from $110 to $400 for jeans; $400 to $900 for silk-chiffon short dresses; $800 to $2,500 for denim dresses and $900 to $3,200 for floor-length silk-chiffon gowns.
The label is also sold at Henri Bendel, Scoop, Hirschleifer’s in Manhasset, N.Y., and Ultimo in Chicago. The clothes range from silk and chiffon pieces festooned with sequins or beads to handcrafted denim ensembles.
Miele declined to project first-year sales. However, real estate sources estimated the store’s annual volume would need to be between $2.5 million and $3.5 million to be profitable.