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NEW YORK — Christopher Crawford is flirting with singlehood.

Crawford, who designs the contemporary Christopher Deane label with Angela Deane, has ventured out on his own by launching the Sophia Eugene collection with a namesake boutique, which opened quietly at 7 Cornelia Street here on June 24. Sophia Eugene features mostly dresses and tops, and, asked to describe its philosophy, the 26-year-old designer said: “I was going for retail hits. I did not design this as a collection. It’s a retail store.”

Crawford, 26, said he launched Sophia Eugene as a store concept because he wanted to test it to “see if the girls like it.” He came up with the moniker after suggesting Sophia and Eugene — favorite names of his — to his sister-in-law and a friend, both of whom are pregnant. “Since neither picked them, I decided to take them myself and put them together for this store,” he said.

The collection includes silk crepe nautical and crochet tops, sundresses with a variety of colorful prints and muumuus, which Crawford said have proven “a summer hit” in the few days his shop has been up and running. Tops sell from $85 to $150 and dresses from $180 to $350. In addition, Crawford offers a selection of vintage costume jewelry that he has picked up over the years in his travels.

The 320-square-foot interior was created by Lex Liang, a set designer who has worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway productions such as “Avenue Q,” “The Graduate” and “Urinetown, The Musical.” The space, which used to house the freezer for Murray’s Cheese Shop on Bleecker Street, features wood beam ceilings and exposed brick walls, as well as concrete walls that are painted in irregular ways — “like a work in progress,” Crawford offered. Liang created the furniture, including an ornate three-tier screen, which serves as the changing room. “I wanted it to have an old world atelier feeling, something that feels very personalized.”

Crawford projects first-year retail sales of $800,000 for the Sophia Eugene store. The designer, who will continue working on Christopher Deane, plans to spend the next two months in his store to introduce himself to the locals. “All the restaurants keep sending over bottles of champagne for me,” Crawford said. “Isn’t that sweet? This is such a neighborhood. I think they’re all just happy it’s not a sex shop.”

This story first appeared in the July 6, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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