The idea was to put the little girl who's always on the move in a spot so everyone could experience her world. The 2,100-square-foot Eloise shop, which opened today, is the first of its kind, with the look and feel of a child's playhouse.
"We thought Eloise deserved a home," said Kristin Franzese, executive vice president of retail, The Shops at The Plaza, who was part of a team that conceived the store.
In the books, the mischievous 6-year-old who lives at The Plaza is known for flitting from one part of the hotel to another. While her spirit is felt throughout the building, "you never did see Louise; she was always just at the Palm Court or over there," Franzese said.
The character of Eloise has widespread appeal, and the store was designed to continue that trend, Franzese said.
"It's a multigenerational store. A lot of moms remember Eloise and the books from when they were kids, and they pass it on to their children," she said.
It's now become a full-fledged experience, as the store's creators wanted to allow children to share an interactive world with Eloise, according to Franzese.
The book's creators, author Kay Thompson and illustrator Hilary Knight, worked on "Eloise: A book for precocious grownups" while staying at The Plaza in 1954.
In the story, 6-year-old Eloise took up residence at the hotel in 1955 with Weenie, her pet pug, Skipperdee, her turtle, and her nanny. Thompson then wrote a succession of books featuring the indominable little girl, including "Eloise in Paris" in 1956, "Eloise at Christmastime" in 1958 and "Eloise in Moscow" in 1959. Thompson died in 1998.
Hotel guests are very familiar with Eloise's storied history, said Raphael Pallais, concierge at The Plaza.
"Little girls ask for Eloise," Pallais said. "Often their parents will ask them to ask us."
He's long been getting questions about the fictional character, and is thrilled about the newest addition to the hotel.
"We have high hopes for Eloise. She's such a character and a personality, a lot like The Plaza," he said. "Of all the fictional characters, she's the only one who lives in a real building."
Franzese said her team was able to move quickly because there was a clear vision of what the store should be like.
"We wanted it to be experiential. The décor was easy: pink," she said.
Pink serves as a backdrop for everything in the store. The pink on the walls are matched to the same shade as the pink in the book, while the drapes, bean bags, furniture and carpet are various shades. Light fixtures covered in pink cloth shine overhead throughout the store.
"We didn't want it to be one dimensional with all one color pink," Franzese said.
Eloise's eponymous shop continues the hotel's effort to carve out a definitive spot for Eloise. The hotel began offering a "live like Eloise" package June 1.
When The Plaza's redesigned Web site debuts later this month, Eloise will have her own section. An Eloise fan club and recommendations from Eloise on places to visit in the hotel, the park and the city are forthcoming on the new Web site.
Then, in 2010, The Plaza plans to unveil an Eloise-themed suite designed by Betsey Johnson.