LONDON — Nanette Lepore has opened her first European unit on London’s hip Westbourne Grove, next door to Nicole Farhi’s 202, and across the street from jeweler Solange Azagury-Partridge and innerwear store Agent Provocateur.

“London is huge for me. It’s such an important market and center of commerce,” said Lepore. “I have a real passion for this city, and I really want London customers to love this store.”

The store resembles Lepore’s U.S. units, which have been designed by her uncle, Raymond Lepore. The designer said it took her about 18 months to find the ideal venue. The store is housed in a former Italian restaurant, and spans 2,200 square feet over three levels.

Lepore is working from a solid base: She already has a showroom in London that wholesales to accounts such as Fenwick’s, Question Air, Mimi and Anna in London, Hero in Cambridge and The Square in Bath.

The Westbourne Grove store stocks the designer’s full collection, including her new footwear line and latest fragrance, Shanghai Butterfly. She is also stocking jewelry by Erickson Beamon and David Aubrey and handbags by Ipanema.

The store has light pink oak floors — “The color is a secret formula, and everyone asks about it,” she said — and vintage Italian light fixtures plucked from flea markets or eBay.

Mirrors with whitewashed frames line the walls, and on the ground floor, a custom-made, “Gone With the Wind”-like sweeping staircase transports customers to the mezzanine. The first-year sales projection is 800,000 pounds to 1 million pounds, or $1.5 million to $1.82 million. All figures have been converted at the current exchange rate.

Lepore, who plans to have an opening party in October, has said foreign markets still make up a tiny percentage of her sales. “But there’s a lot of potential here.”

The designer has stores in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston and Tokyo. Next up is a unit in Oyster Bay, N.Y., in 2007, with plans for stores in Hawaii, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

This story first appeared in the July 5, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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