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High-end Hoppen hits the U.S.

NEW YORK — Another decorating diva will be bringing her wares to the American home furnishings market.

Kelly Hoppen, a British-based lifestyle interior designer, who has branched into product design and a retail store in London, hopes to repeat her success in this country.

While many of her counterparts here are focusing on the mainstream American market, Hoppen is looking to the top.

Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Horchow catalog — all units of the Neiman Marcus Group — will be the retail launch pad for her home furnishings in this country.

"Although we're still in the negotiating stage, still in the planning stage," Burt Tansky, CEO of the Neiman Marcus Group, explained, "we are impressed with Kelly as a person and as a designer. We're always looking for new ideas and for ways to make a difference in our stores. We think Kelly will add another dimension."

Initial plans call for the launch to begin with a dedicated shop in Bergdorf Goodman here later this year, followed by a to-be-determined number of Neiman's dedicated shops early in 2005. "But we may feature the products in some stores without shops," Tansky explained.

In-store shop sizes have yet to be determined.

Additionally, Tansky sees the company's Neiman Marcus and Horchow catalogs, and its online business, as potential outlets for the program.

Products scheduled for the Kelly Hoppen program in the United States include bed and bath, furniture, rugs, dinnerware, lighting, paint and window treatments, said Carl Levine, president of Carl Levine Consulting & Licensing. Negotiations are well underway, he added.

Hoppen — who opened her retail store in London in September 2002 — has home collections with Peter Reed for bedding, Wedgwood for giftware, Holland & Sherry for fabrics, Fired Earth for paints, Silent Gliss for window coverings and private-label programs in furniture and rugs.

She is no stranger to the American high-end market. "For the last 15 years, I've been flying home design to 40,000-square-foot American homes."

Hoppen notes, "We bring Europe and our heritage to the American market. It's very different. European design is more fluid; American design is more rigid."

Overall, the American collection of home furnishings will be limited to high-end specialty stores, rather than department stores, Levine said.

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