Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Anne Klein New York is building a home to match its name.
Kasper ASL, which acquired the Anne Klein trademarks two years ago and renamed the bridge brand with its spring 2002 collection, said on Tuesday that it had signed a lease for its first flagship at 417 West Broadway, replacing the Rene Lezard shop that closed in July.
The deal was struck quickly, as the company is looking to open the store on Feb. 15 during fall fashion week, said John Idol, chairman and chief executive officer of Kasper ASL.
“From day one, we wanted to have a store in New York,” Idol said. “After we renamed the brand Anne Klein New York, we needed a store here to reflect that image.”
Renaming the brand was part of Kasper’s strategy to develop international sales and more closely associate the label with the city where it was born 33 years ago. Since Charles Nolan came on board as design director at the beginning of the year, Anne Klein also has been making an effort at positioning itself as a more fashion-oriented collection, rather than a typical bridge line. So, the company looked in SoHo because the neighborhood has an edgier mix of designer fashion companies than Madison or Fifth Avenues, Idol said.
The 3,000-square-foot space, located between Prince and Spring Streets, once housed the Mary Boone art gallery, until it was occupied by Rene Lezard in 1996. It has a limestone floor and a skylight that runs its entire length. Anne Klein is working with Kramer Design Group on an interior, furniture and fixturing concept that is inspired by the lobbies of boutique hotels.
“The design of the interior is a great foil for the clothes,” said Nolan. “We want to create a relaxed atmosphere within a dramatic space.”
Most of the store will be dedicated to the Anne Klein New York collection, though some pieces from its better collection, AK Anne Klein, may be included, Idol said. About 30 percent of its two levels will be used for accessories and the upper floor will be merchandised around the brand’s signature lion’s head logo.
Among the design details, it will feature red rugs, based on its signature accent color, large flowing drapes toward the back of the store and lots of seating areas to create a warm, inviting atmosphere, Idol said. Further flagships are planned in California, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London within the next two years, followed by locations in key malls, he said.
Anne Klein currently operates 25 outlet stores, but this would be its first signature flagship.

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