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The Brooklyn-based jewelry designer is opening his second store in late May on Bleecker Street, home to designer boutiques, upscale eateries and specialty store chains.
Bittar unveiled his Broome Street flagship in March 2004 and plans to open four more stores in the next five years in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. He may also add another New York location on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The new, 350-square-foot space will feature Bittar's signature Lucite bangles in eye-popping colors and handcrafted pearl and gold vermeil pieces that have helped him achieve a cultlike status among the costume jewelry set. Having started out selling his collections on the streets of SoHo 20 years ago, Bittar has grown into a designer whose jewelry wholesales in 600 stores worldwide, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Selfridges.
Like its other location, Bittar's new store fuses antique touches and modern objects. Victorian wallpaper mixes with industrial pieces that showcase the jewelry, as well as works of art. Cherry blossoms adorn one wall — the inspiration for which was taken from a scene from the 1959 film "North by Northwest." With a dark gray rug sweeping the floor and oak veneer cases lining the walls, the store will evoke a homey feeling as opposed to the austere aesthetic that Bittar feels is dominating today's retail climate. He claims the store is "one part bedroom, one part 1940s department store."
"I didn't want to mimic the same store identity that's been rolling out lately," Bittar said. "It seems like everyone is doing the 'all-white Sheetrock' look and it's minimal to the point of boring. I want to keep the same fusion of antique and modern that my other store has, but in a different way."
Bittar's Broome Street store also juxtaposes the new with the old. The walls vary between stark Plexiglas and antique wallpaper. A lion-footed Victorian table dominates the center of the room.
"I want my customers to feel something special upon entering my stores, like they are stepping back in time," Bittar said.
According to sources outside of the company, his 13-year-old brand has estimated sales of about $25 million. Each year Bittar experiences double-digit growth and has just seen a record 30 percent sales increase from last spring into fall. He often collaborates with ready-to-wear designers, having done Michael Kors' bold necklaces, rings and bangles for the designer's spring show, as well as the bright, beaded pieces for Bryan Bradley's Tuleh spring collection.