LOS ANGELES — With the debut of door number three in West Hollywood this week, including an opening bash for the store this Sunday night, Stella McCartney is capping off quite a year.
In just the past couple of weeks, she tied the knot to longtime beau Alasdhair Willis, and launched her first signature scent. And before her arrival here this weekend, she will pick up the Designer of the Year trophy at Thursday’s Lycra British Style Awards at the Old Billingsgate Market in London.
But in the late afternoon last Friday, she was rushing after her border collie in a park near home while breathlessly chatting by cell phone about her West Coast shop, a 2,300-square-foot, bi-level boutique housed in an ivy-covered French cottage at 8823 Beverly Boulevard.
“Hopefully, it’s something that will fit in L.A.,” she said, despite an existing fan base here. “But fashion is much more universal now. Most modern women are looking for the same kinds of things, no matter where they live.”
Where each store is located, however, slightly impacts its environment. The first, opened a year ago in New York’s Meatpacking District, features a dirty pink fabric wall of painted animals. A London flagship bowed in May in a four-story Georgian town house and has a fairy-tale feel with its glass-enclosed winter garden.
Off the proverbial beaten track, like the others, the Hollywood shop situated on a stretch populated by interior design and furniture retailers (Armani Casa is across the busy road). The unusual exterior for this area — it looks like it’s from 19th-century France — is pleasantly jarring.
The inside is thoroughly modern. A lavender-gray washes some walls. Danish club chairs from the Twenties and others from the Fifties are scattered between floors. Several Cappelini hang rails present the collection in utilitarian fashion, while a long, smooth fuchsia floor cabinet, also by Cappelini, contains jewelry and eyewear. A skylight shoots sun down a corner that reflects off one of a few 10-foot-tall leaning mirrors.
Yet U.K.-based Universal Design Studio and McCartney provide the otherwise stark elements with her signature whimsy: a sweet Neil Rummings painting called “Fatal Attraction” of a dog and cat hangs above a gold, rectangular Wagner sofa. Fabric flowers, crystals and sterling silver chains float across a wall downstairs in a craft installation by McCartney and her team. Marquetry, a craftsman detail found in her other doors, also appears as nobs in the dressing rooms holding handbag straps off the walls.Upstairs, where her “veggie-sensitive” footwear and handbags are shown, a dividing wall is covered in fabric screened with a Beefeater, an old dandy and a shingle of the flagship in London, among other graphics.
“The philosophy of the shops is to not be mundane,” said McCartney. “Every other shop you go to in every city looks exactly the same. And that’s not the philosophy for me. The whole thing with me is that people feel they’re in a safe haven. They don’t even have to shop. They can go upstairs, take a picture and leave.”
The second-story balcony looks out onto the Hollywood Hills and into the rear courtyard and garden, paved in bricks and appointed with a fountain, a topiary of a wild horse, a greenhouse and lemon trees. The newly planted roses are a nod to the designer’s native country, while the mature fuchsia bougainvillea blanketing the walls are a California favorite.
“I did want to show a bit of London, since we are a London-based company,” she said. “But every store should have something fresh and new to look at. People now travel and see so much.”
Nearby Rodeo Drive was never an option, McCartney averred. And fans don’t have to travel far from favorite fashion destination Robertson Boulevard, two blocks south, home to Kitson, Hogan, Ghost and Les Habitudes.
Chuck Dembo, partner at Beverly Hills real estate firm Dembo & Assoc., who facilitated the lease, estimated annual sales at area apparel stores average between $600 and $700 a square foot. If the Stella McCartney store reflects the average, the store could pull first-year sales of between $1.4 million and $1.6 million.
Stella McCartney Ltd. is owned equally by McCartney and Gucci Group NV.
While the designer conceded the search continues for new locations — “possibly Europe, though nothing is close to being confirmed” — the company’s immediate emphasis is the potentially explosive accessories categories.
“Now we’re just going to take things at a natural pace.”
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