Coming to Aspen’s Isis: fashion, art
December 11, 2007
ASPEN ” The two retail spaces in the Isis Theatre are officially spoken for.
Leases have been signed by the operators of a women’s clothing store and a photo gallery. The Aspen City Council this week signed off on sublease agreements with the Isis Retail Group and Peter Lik, a photographer who will show his works in one space, and Vanessa Kirianoff, owner of Blu Phoenix, a contemporary women’s clothing store, in the other half of the building.
Earlier this year City Hall financed the purchase of the historic theater and allowed one of the five screens to be converted into retail space that would be leased by the Isis Property Group, a group of investors who were going to purchase the theater before the city stepped in.
The city of Aspen owns the Isis building and leases the retail space to Courtney Lord, who heads the retail group. Aspen Film leases the theater portion of the building and leases it Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas. Per an agreement with the city, both local organizations have a right to own the spaces in 30 years, according City Finance Director Paul Menter.
Lord has been responsible for paying rent to City Hall since the deal closed in February. But since the retail spaces have been under construction for the past 10 months, Lord has had to buck up about $300,000 in rent to the city.
Construction is scheduled to be complete this month and Lord is hoping his new tenants will have no further delays.
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“We’ll be happier when we get them open,” he said.
Kirianoff, 24, said she plans to open by the end of this week, possibly just in time for the Dec. 15-16 weekend.
Operating under the corporation Verve LLC., Blu Phoenix will offer leather coats, cashmere, tops, slacks, denim jeans and jewelry. Kirianoff, an old Snowmass resident, describes the clothing as moderately to high priced.
“I have the locals in mind,” she said. “My friends said buy things that we can buy.”
Lik, an Australian photographer, will add Aspen to his growing list of cities where he has galleries ” 14 in total ” New York, Las Vegas, Florida, Hawaii, Colorado and Austrailia.
He began with specialized panoramic postcards and ventured into small hardcover books, which have become his trademark. His galleries sell limited editions of his work, and include scenic prints and celebrity photos. Prices for his works can reach into the thousands of dollars.
When the city of Aspen, the investor group and Aspen Film entered into the partnership, it was stipulated that the retail space be mid-level in pricing. While neither operator’s model indicates mid-level prices, locals and visitors will determine the cost threshold through their shopping habits.
Kirianoff said the space, which she first eyed three months ago, is strategically located in a heavily-traveled pedestrian area and near upscale shops in the Brand Building.
“In Aspen it’s important to have a space you believe in and this is a great location,” she said, adding she has a five-year lease with an option to renew for two years. “The opportunity came together in September and I jumped on it.”
Verve LLC is funded by a group of local investors and Kirianoff will have the option of buying 100 percent of the company when it turns a profit, which she expects to do within a couple of years.
The store is the first business for Kirianoff, who grew up between Los Angeles and Aspen. She has worked in the fashion merchandising industry since she graduated from the University of Southern California in photography and design.
Kirianoff said she’s bought most of her merchandise in LA, and plans to purchase clothing and jewelry that is unique to Aspen.
“I want to bring some brands in that aren’t in Aspen,” she said, adding she hopes to offer high-end jewelry in the future and possibly some men’s apparel. Whatever she buys, Kirianoff wants locals to be satisfied.
“In the world of Aspen the word ‘local’ is disappearing,” she said. “This store is financed by locals and run by locals.”