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LONDON — Stella McCartney’s celebrity-pulling machine kicked into overdrive at the opening of her first London store Thursday night. Guests stepping over the threshold at 30 Bruton Street included Madonna, Tom Ford, Valentino, Giancarlo Giammetti, Mario Testino and Tracey Emin — whose neon installation, Just Love Me, hangs on a wall in the store.
“I have so many butterflies, it’s all a bit scary, but I’m so excited,” said McCartney, who was dressed in a silvery-gray satin coat.
The store is the designer’s second unit after New York, which opened last September in the heart of the Meatpacking District. As reported, McCartney has signed a lease for her third store at 8823 Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood, which will open this fall. Future units will likely be in Paris, Milan and Tokyo.
The 10,000-square-foot London store is housed in a four-story Georgian town house and has a fairy-tale, girlie feel to it. The ground floor walls and floor are decorated with marquetry images of an enchanted winter forest, complete with shadows, sun and a floating fairy.
The walls, inspired by illustrations from the early 1900s, also boast doors that pop out — “Alice in Wonderland” style — to reveal bags, shoes and other accessories.
At the back of the store, there is a glass-enclosed winter garden with its own maple tree. The walls of the shoe room next door are papered with a hand-printed monkey design fabric and festooned with tiny vintage trinkets including brooches, earrings and necklaces.
In an interview before the party, McCartney said the last thing she wanted was an intimidating and uncomfortable atmosphere. “There is nothing in this store that I wouldn’t have in my own home,” she said. “A lot of love has gone into this place, I think it’s very homey.”
She said the marquetry — a 17th-century decorative technique using carved and inlaid wood — reflects her love of the bespoke. “I like things that take time to create.”
Not surprisingly, partygoers loved what they saw.
“I love Stella, and I think the store is incredible,” said Ford, the creative director of Stella McCartney’s parent company Gucci Group. “It’s very mature, very grown up. I’m so proud of her. It’s just incredible.”
This story first appeared in the May 19, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Valentino described the interiors as a “fresh display,” while Testino called the store overwhelming. “Every room is just so different,” said London man-about-town Dan Macmillan.
The first floor, which houses the ready-to-wear collection, is less ornate than the ground floor and showcases the period restorations that McCartney and her team carried out. There are herringbone-paneled wooden floors and classical cornicing from the Georgian period.
The dressing rooms are covered with handblocked wallpaper — butterfly patterns in particular — that McCartney and her team designed.
The third floor is for VIP clients, and for McCartney’s tailoring service. McCartney has hired the Savile Row tailor Henry Rose to execute her designs for men and women. The service also marks McCartney’s first foray into men’s wear.
The third floor will also house a special room for McCartney’s first fragrance, which will launch in the fall.
McCartney’s company is 50 percent owned by Gucci, with the designer owning the other half. As with other Gucci subsidiaries, the company declined to forecast the store’s first-year sales. However, real estate sources estimate that the store, housed in the former Lefevre Gallery, should expect to generate between $4 million and $5 million in annual sales, based on the average sales of stores in the area.