Byline: Miles Socha

NEW YORK — Michael Kors, a designer who knows his way around a fitting room, said Monday he plans to open a flagship Manhattan boutique next summer at 974 Madison Avenue at 76th Street.
Kors said he signed a lease for a 3,500-square-foot boutique on a corner currently occupied by Villeroy & Boch, which sells tableware. Construction is slated to start early next year to prepare the site for a July 1 opening. The space is owned by Peter Sharp Co. and was signed through Alexandra Frangos at Colliers ABR.
“It’s going to reinforce Michael Kors as a true international design presence,” said John Orchulli, co-chairman and chief executive officer of Michael Kors. “We’ve wanted to do this for years.”
In a statement released Monday, Kors said, “Part of our ultimate goal for collection has always included plans for a store, and I am thrilled. I see our store as the ultimate ‘dress shop,’ in the ultimate neighborhood, in the ultimate city+a place to go for all of our customers’ needs.”
Kors was in Paris Monday for the Premiere Vision fabric show and was not available for additional comment.
Orchulli said the decision to move above 72nd Street was deliberate. He described Madison Avenue in the lower 60s as “more of a tourist, item-driven area,” whereas the neighborhood above 72nd is where women are more outfit-oriented.
“It’s turning out, for whatever reason, to be a hot area,” he said.
Designer boutiques in the neighborhood include Missoni, Vera Wang, Issey Miyake and Christian Louboutin. And coming soon is Carolina Herrera, who just bought the Givenchy building at 954 Madison Avenue at 74th Street.
The two-level Kors boutique, with eight large windows on the main floor and 1,500 square feet on a lower level, will carry the Michael Kors collections for women and men, said Orchulli. He said it will also likely showcase leather accessories and eyewear, two categories the company has identified as priorities for extending the brand.
Orchulli declined to specify the budget for the store, which will be designed by Dan Rowen Architects. However, he made it clear that LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which took a one-third stake in the business last February, allowed for the “substantial” expenditure necessary.
“We will spend appropriately for the store to give the right image,” he said.
The New York store will determine the image for a further rollout. Orchulli said the company is planning three to five additional locations globally by 2003. He said those would include one or two more domestic locations, which he declined to pinpoint. Internationally, he said, Tokyo and London are priorities.
Orchulli said he expects the store will raise awareness of Kors and “we fully expect to make a profit on the store.”
Asked if he thought the boutique would upset wholesale accounts in the city, which include Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Jeffrey, Orchulli said, “I think it’s going to be an enhancement. It will allow Michael to present his own collection and present styles that often fall off the line in other retail environments.”