Byline: Leonard McCants

NEW YORK — Since she relaunched her business in 1997, it seems that Diane Von Furstenberg has been keeping a checklist, scratching off accomplishments with the meticulousness of Martha Stewart.
Her methodical strategy has included:
Canceling unwanted and unfavorable license agreements.
Bringing back her signature wrap dress.
Branching into sportswear and intimate apparel.
With the opening Thursday of the first signature freestanding store adjacent to Von Furstenberg’s design studio/home in the West Village, the designer is set to scratch of another task.
“I needed to do a store to have a full showcase,” Von Furstenberg said. “This is the one place in the world where you can see the full selection.”
That grouping should include the full collection, including looks from the runway that retailers did not buy, and also a few men’s shirts done in the company’s signature logo print, special items Von Furstenberg picked up during her travels around the globe and even custom-made eveningwear, bridesmaid dresses and wedding gowns.
Von Furstenberg hired Nicole Martaheleur, formerly director of retail operations at fashion jewelry boutique Agatha as her director of retail operations and charged her with taking customer service to another level.
“She understands the profile and the lifestyle of the customer,” Von Furstenberg said. “The one thing people should know about the store is the password is Nicole.”
The 700-square-foot boutique, designed as a jewel box, will be the antithesis to the current minimalist chic rage sweeping retail, Von Furstenberg said.
“The jewel box is supposed to be a little bit like how you would imagine a shop in the Forties,” she explained.
It will also try to capture some of the many facets of Von Furstenberg’s persona, from glamour and sophistication to worldliness and whimsy.
The walls and furniture will be white or off white with the clothing adding the vast majority of the color. Set in the ceiling are makeup compact mirrors, an idea Von Furstenberg came up with while traveling in India, where she saw inlaid stones and mirrors in some of the palaces there. (Architect Bill Katz worked with Von Furstenberg to realize her visions.)
Continuing with the Indian theme will be a circular tent made in the center of the store bisected into half-moon shape changing rooms. The rich ivory-colored tent fabric will also be carried to two upholstered chairs in the store.
Adding a fanciful note and a splash of additional color will be a pink sofa in the shape of lips. It was something that she bought with Andy Warhol, she said.
“I was looking for a little sofa and it was staring at me and we decided it was the best one,” she recalled. “In a weird way, those are the things that happen in my life, the compact mirrors, going to India at the right time.”
With the store’s remote location little more than a block from the Hudson River in a residential neighborhood, Von Furstenberg has grand plans to attract consumers.
One is a large studio space, separated from the store by sliding and pivoting frosted glass doors, where the company has been holding its runway presentations for two seasons. The studio will also be used for dance and theater performances in addition to photo exhibits and readings. Fashion photographer Bill Clang’s work featuring Von Furstenberg’s clothing are scheduled to go up in July.
The company will also hold themed events in the store the first Thursday of every month when new deliveries arrive.
“There will always be a surprise in the store,” she said.
Even as she cuts the ribbon on the first boutique, Von Furstenberg has her sights on the next target, a store in Paris, her second home town. Superstitious about revealing too much too soon, she declined to even say which bank she was scouting for locations, but did indicate she’d like to have it open early in the new year.
“The [New York] store represents the first fruit,” Von Furstenberg said. “This was something that I planted. The tree grew and it had flowers and this is the first fruit. The next fruit will hopefully be in Paris by January.”