LONDON — Stella McCartney is beefing up her retail portfolio with a slew of store openings, including her first stand-alone unit in Milan’s golden triangle.

This story first appeared in the February 15, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Milan store, in an 18th-century building on via Santo Spirito, spans 1,800 square feet over two floors. The ground floor is covered in oak parquet arranged in a multicolored pattern created by the Israeli designer Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay for Established & Sons, the British design and manufacturing company that belongs to McCartney’s husband, Alasdhair Willis.

Lean, twisted brass sculptures are mounted on the walls and hide one of McCartney’s retail pet peeves — clothing racks. Other features include ceramic rhombus-shaped tiles for some of the walls and street-facing windows, and display cases made from, or lined with, eco-friendly wool felt in primary colors.

“It’s a little gem,” said McCartney. “I treat these stores like interiors projects, and I wouldn’t have anything in my stores that I wouldn’t have in my home.”

She said the store’s focal point was the patterned floor — a studied patchwork of McCartney’s signature plums, pinks and taupes. “It’s very bold, and a play on British marquetry,” she said.

Italy is one of the brand’s biggest markets, and the clothing collections are made at Gucci Group factories in Novara. “The new store is a lovely meeting point for the product and the brand,” she said.

The store, which opens next week, will carry the brand’s full offer, including the organic skin care line CARE and adidas by Stella McCartney. The opening party will be on April 14, during Milan’s Salone del Mobile.

McCartney hasn’t been sitting still in the run-up to Milan.

Last month, the brand opened spaces at Liberty in London and Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussman in Paris. The Liberty corner carries the designer’s ready-to-wear collection, which complements the store’s existing offer of McCartney accessories, lingerie and fragrances.

The 559-square-foot boutique at Galeries Lafayette carries McCartney’s rtw, bags, shoes and accessories, and features white stone floors, maple wall paneling and polished brass clothing rails.

Also in January, the designer opened her first freestanding store in Beirut. The 620-square-foot space, the designer’s seventh in the Middle East, operates under a franchise agreement with Aishti, a luxury retailer based in Lebanon.

The store is located in the luxury alley of the Beirut Souk Mall, an open-air shopping center that opened in October. The store carries McCartney’s rtw, accessories and fragrances, while its decor echoes her existing stores, with Japanese ash wood panels on the walls, dark gray wool carpets and bronze display shelves.

And when she isn’t designing store interiors or breaking into new markets, McCartney is tending to her Gap Kids line. The designer has unveiled her second collection for the brand, which will hit stores in the U.S. and the U.K. and rest of Europe on March 25 and 29, respectively.

The spring collection, with its organic denim fabrics and recycled nylon, is packed with items that run the gamut from glamorous to flashy to functional, including cotton silk ruffle tops, broderie anglaise dresses, jazzy cowboy shirts with pearl snap buttons, stripy jersey jumpsuits and T-shirts and gingham check jackets with zips on the side.

“I want kids to have fun with what they’re wearing,” McCartney said, adding she could not have designed the collection without the experience of being a mother. “What I wanted to do were basics, but ones that stand out. You want your kids to get compliments on these clothes.”

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