Anne Fontaine is no longer wearing her heart on her white-shirted sleeve — a lot of other products are competing for her attention as she builds her business into a lifestyle brand.
Précieuse, a collection of jackets and dresses made from luxury fibers, which was something of a test when it bowed in Fontaine’s Madison Avenue flagship in 2008, is being distributed to other flagships and will be sold in any new stores that the designer opens. “We’re now expanding that line to other stores,” said Ari Zlotkin, chief executive officer and Fontaine’s husband. “It’s a big success.”
For spring, Fontaine is introducing the Glam collection. The antithesis of the buttoned-up white shirt, Glam is an overtly sexy line of corsets, neck collars and transparent tops, ranging in price from $1,600 to $2,500. Glam will be sold at flagships. “Some items may be too racy for certain stores or too provocative for certain customers,” Zlotkin said.
Sunglasses made in France are a new product category for summer. “There’s a real focus on accessories,” Zlotkin said. For spring-summer, there also are leather handbags with flower appliqués, perforated and woven leather belts, and jewelry with flower and butterfly motifs. A new prototype that was unveiled in Cannes, France, in November displays handbags and accessories more prominently, something Fontaine wants to do throughout the chain.
There’s a push to expand the size of existing stores by about 20 to 25 percent, where possible, to accommodate the entire product range. The Dallas unit is being expanded to 1,000 square feet from 600 square feet and a unit at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., recently moved to a larger space.
With 80 stores worldwide, the $85 million Anne Fontaine will open 10 units this year, Zlotkin said. A flagship in Florence will bow in April, followed by a store at the Bal Harbour Shops in Boca Raton, Fla., in May. Four units are scheduled to open in Asia this year in Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Osaka, Japan.
“We were very focused on the shirt,” Zlotkin said. “By doing Précieuse and Glam we’re not abandoning our core products. We thought it was very important to increase the offer and propose to customers other products with the same design spirit. We’re working to make sure we don’t lose the core product.”
Fontaine had hoped to launch a spa at the Madison Avenue flagship by now. A spa was set to open in Miami and two were planned for Asia. The business is on hold, with the only spa in operation at the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré flagship in Paris. “We slowed work on the spa,” Zlotkin said. “Business hasn’t been as good. In Paris, it’s doing well. The spa business needs a lot of capital investment. Considering the economy, we had to make choices and we chose our core business. The spa is a second business. We’re launching a line of skin care products in our stores, but the spa is something we still want to do.”