Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Henri Bendel is calling on a little overseas talent to kick off its expanded designer department.
The store will host a day of personal appearances Thursday by British designers Luella Bartley and Sophia Kokosalaki, French designers Alexandre Morgado and Matthieu Bureau of the French label Alexandre et Matthieu and Alexandre Herchovitch of Brazil. The appearances will be followed by a cocktail reception that evening at the store and then a dinner at an outside location.
The event coincides with the opening of Bendel’s New Creative department, which expands its designer floor by about 30 percent, Ed Burstell, Bendel’s vice president and general manager, said in a telephone interview. Other designers to be carried in the area include Emma Cook, Rick Owens, Imitation of Christ, Bernard Wilhelm and Alessandro Dell’ Acqua.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Burstell said. “We’ve expanded our designer roster substantially over the last four seasons from 12 to 20 and now to 40. But we wanted to focus more on this young creatives area, which was one of our highest-producing departments for fall.”
The designer department will now be split between Classic, Contemporary and New Creative areas, Burstell said. A final area is devoted to a shop-in-store for the vintage clothing retailer Resurrection.
Burstell said the expansion of the designer floor follows similar moves Bendel’s has been slowly making throughout the store, following the success of its beauty department where MAC Cosmetics launched a decade ago.
“It’s been our mission statement for a while,” he said. “It’s giving the customers something new to discover when they come into the store.”
The event will mark the first personal appearances by Bartley and Kokosalaki, who have become two of London’s hottest designers over the last three seasons. Bartley is known for her Eighties rock ‘n’ roll styles with handpainted leathers and tight fluorescent jeans. Kokosalaki, meanwhile, goes for the softer look inspired by her native Greece.
Bendel’s has carried Bartley for two seasons, while the other designers attending the event are new at the store for spring.

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