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NEW YORK — Jil Sander diehards were shopping in full force Friday morning as the brand’s flagship here made its debut.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The 7,000-square-foot store at 11 East 57th Street is an homage to the label’s minimalist aesthetic. The space’s striking limestone facade, which features double-height arched windows, gives way to a sleek, spare white-walled interior with warm golden lighting. Three levels of pale limestone floors, thin nickel silver merchandise displays and frosted glass are subtle but luxe elements used by the architect Michael Gabellini in an effort to emphasize the clothes as opposed to overwhelming them with an overt store design.

Intricate and complex architectural and design features — such as a layered wall that undulates through the space’s three stories, ambient lighting calibrated to depict colors accurately, walls containing an invisible sound system and a radiant floor heating system — are discreet touches serving to further offset the merchandise and shopping experience.

“The space is set up as a frame so the firm materials that exist there can continually be adjusted to complement the collection as it changes and evolves,” said Gabellini.

The original facade of the space, which was built in 1900, was restored, according to Gabellini: “We wanted to retain the grandness and glamour of the existing storefront and contrast it with the newness of the inside — yet imbuing it with character to feel intimate and warm. The intention is to think of it as a grand home.” This idea is in sharp contrast with the current trend by other retailers to create “megastores,” he said.

The women’s collection, including shoes and accessories, fill the first two floors, while men’s is situated on the third. The company plans to install offices and showrooms in the remaining floors atop the store.

Milan Vukmirovic, the brand’s creative director, said the store will finally allow New York customers to see the Jil Sander women’s and men’s collections in their entirety.

Retail prices range from $1,200 to $4,000 for coats, $1,400 to $2,600 for suits, while jackets, trousers and skirts average $500.

The company, a division of Prada Group, declined to give a forecast for first-year store sales. This is the first Jil Sander store in New York, but new stores in Sapporo, Japan and Beverly Hills are currently in development, according to the firm.

For the six months ended June 30, Sander reported a loss of $13.4 million on sales of $66.8 million.