FONTAINE SETS SOHO UNIT, HER 3RD STORE IN THE U.S.

Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK — La Chemise Blanche, a store devoted exclusively to Anne Fontaine’s white blouses, is scheduled to open in a 2,000-square-foot space in SoHo here on Aug. 15.
It will be Fontaine’s third store in the U.S. She also owns 30 stores in Europe and Japan.
Fontaine, a 27-year-old Paris designer, gives new meaning to the word “niche.” Three times a year, she designs a collection of 30 to 50 white shirts in lace, pique, cotton and linen. There are no pants, skirts or accessories. Just shirts — white ones.
“Anne Fontaine creates the perfect white blouse,” said Sheri Falk, Fontaine’s partner in the store, which is at 95 Greene Street between Prince and Spring Streets. “She’s been working with the woman’s torso for a long time and knows how to flatter her figure. The store is all about details and the texture of the fabrics.”
The SoHo store will also house a showroom and distribution center. Fontaine’s blouses are currently sold at Neiman Marcus.
According to Falk, the store is expected to do $1 million in sales in its first year.
Falk discovered Fontaine’s shirts as a student at the Sorbonne in 1993.
“Every day, I would walk by her store window and see all the silhouettes and great shapes,” Falk said. “It really summed up the great taste of French women.
“It was a personal passion first, and then I became a very loyal customer,” Falk said. “I just finished my MBA and was interested in starting a business on an international level.”
Falk and Fontaine opened the first La Chemise Blanche store in the U.S. at Inwood Village in Dallas in 1995. A second store bowed in December 1997 on Boylston Street in Boston.
While the French have a way of putting disparate separates together, American women have been known to favor a more coordinated sportswear approach.
Prices range from $135 for a simple cotton shirt to $180 for a sheer organdy blouse. While some of Fontaine’s blouses have elaborate embroidery or rhinestone closures, her trademark is simple elegance.
Does Fontaine ever tire of designing shirts?
“She works with great collars and interesting details in white,” Falk said. “She comes up with so many interpretations. She does about 150 different designs a year. As we sell through the designs, we phase them out.”
Fontaine and Falk, who plan to open more stores in the U.S., will be targeting the West Coast next year.

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