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NEW YORK — Milly’s first store, an 1,800-square-foot flagship at 900 Madison Avenue and the corner of 73rd Street here, is an exercise in branding.
This story first appeared in the May 13, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We want to present some of the iconic images associated with the brand,” said designer Michelle Smith, citing the oversize brass Milly logo M door handles, Milly’s ladylike script logo woven into rugs and “Milly pink” painted hangers.
Sales of $1.8 million are expected in the first year, according to Andy Oshrin, Smith’s husband and Milly’s chief executive officer. Oshrin said Milly has an option to use the second floor of the building for retail space if it decides to expand. “We looked at this space before the recession,” he said. “At the peak of the real estate market, we couldn’t have broken even. We ended up looking some more, but the market didn’t adjust. We even took our sights off Manhattan and looked at Greenwich, Conn. Then, we returned to the space and got it for 20 percent less rent.”
Calypso St. Barth in July will open a store next door to Milly.
Mini Milly, a new category of ready-to-wear for girls, launched in January. Also new are handbags, which are displayed in a beehive accessories fixture, a massive built-in piece of furniture with a hexagonal outline. Next year, there will be 50 percent more styles, Oshrin said. Bridal, another new business, is displayed in the foyer outside the dressing rooms. “Lots of brides are wearing two dresses at their wedding now,” Smith said. “They wear long to the service and short to the reception.”
Designs for spring include the Justene dress, $375; Katrina sheath dress, $525; the Caroline maxi dress, $495, and the Milly goat skin hobo bag, $445. Oshrin said shoes will be a big business for Milly once they launch in 2012. “Maybe we’ll do home, stationary and candles, but those may be a year out,” he said.
Smith and Oshrin have more stores in mind, but they’re in no rush; the business is 100 percent self-financed. “We know the best cities for our business, Boston, San Francisco, Palm Beach, Dallas and Atlanta,” said Oshrin, who cut his apparel teeth at his family’s Gallery outerwear business.
The store’s midcentury furniture, dark floors and vintage chandeliers mimics Smith and Oshin’s apartment. A seating area features two Milo Bauman chairs in pink, and a purple tufted sofa sitting on a goatskin rug. A rosewood armoire holds dresses and accessories. Elaborate moldings on the walls and ceilings were chosen by Smith, who studied at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, the Fashion Institute of Technology here, and ESMOD in Paris, while also interning at Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior Haute Couture. “We’re showcasing pieces from our personal art collection,” she said. “I love art. The whole [spring] collection was inspired by Peggy Guggenheim.”
While the store is a homage to Smith’s feminine sensibility, there’s one jarring exception, the album “Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” decorating one of the shelves.