By  on October 30, 2007

ATLANTA — Ralph Lauren's dramatic new store in Lenox Square here is positioned as the brand's flagship in the South.

The two-level, 14,000-square-foot space opened Saturday in the new wing of the luxury mall, replacing a 7,000-square-foot unit that launched at Lenox Square in 1996 to coincide with Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"This is by far the biggest store of any in the Southeast, and in glamour, the level of sophistication and product range, it rivals our stores in Milan or Tokyo," said Charles Fagan, executive vice president, global retail brand development. "Our New York store is the flagship for the Northeast, Chicago is the flagship of the middle of the country, and Beverly Hills is it for the West Coast. Now this store reflects our commitment to Atlanta and this region."

The Atlanta store is twice the size of Lauren's retail units in Palm Beach and at the Bal Harbour Shops in Florida, and it carries a broader range of product.

"Those stores have product that's more specific to the communities they serve," Fagan said, adding that the Lenox Square unit, with its complete offering of every division of men's, women's, home and accessories, will target an Atlanta customer base that has greatly evolved since Lauren's first Lenox Square store opened in 1980.

"Atlanta is now a mix of everything from the most conservative banker to the trendiest people in the music industry," he said. "We no longer count on just the more traditional, classic items to be bestsellers, but have added everything for this sophisticated audience."

The store should also attract Ralph Lauren customers from a wide trading area of surrounding Southern states, Fagan said. He declined to comment on specific volume projections.

About 4,500 square feet is devoted to women's product in six separate rooms that feature all labels — the Ralph Lauren Collection of designer-priced goods, Ralph Lauren Black Label and Blue Label, and all sportswear, including the performance line RLX. The collection room now features holiday looks in cashmere, silk and taffeta gowns and separates, in black, red and gold, starting at $1,000.

RLX includes looks such as gold leather ski jackets, equestrian pants and a brown full-length shearling coat with toggle closures that retails for $3,498. In accessories, a category that has expanded to a complete room, bags, belts and shoes are prominently displayed, including items like a gold crocodile Ricky bag with metal closures, $14,000.The store stays true to the Ralph Lauren ideal of classic American luxury. A grand center staircase of white limestone with a curved wrought iron railing topped with floor-to-ceiling art and photography connects the two floors.

Period furnishings, artwork, books and creative lighting create moods that support each product area's lifestyle. The women's collection room, with its imposing chandelier, plaster molding and plush furnishings, is inspired by gracious Southern homes of the Thirties, including the Swan House, a 1928 Atlanta landmark designed by Philip Trammell Schutze, Fagan said.

Other rooms, such as the young men's Double RL shop, play at the opposite end of the design spectrum. With a separate entrance, the 1,000-square-foot area has a mercantile, Wild West saloon vibe, befitting the Western, rockabilly-inspired sportswear and accessories inside.

Even the fitting rooms are worlds in themselves. Men's wear dressing room walls are lined with Prince of Wales suiting fabric and purple mohair velvet.

The 6,500-square-foot men's area is also divided into rooms for each Ralph Lauren label, from custom bespoke British-tailored suits, shirts and shoes, to the most casual utility sportswear, and functional gear for hunting and skiing. A crocodile duffel bag sells for $16,000 and a Cooper leather and canvas bag, $20,000.

Atlanta icon Ted Turner's daughter, Laura Seydel, her husband, Rutherford Seydel, and Jim Jacoby, a developer of mixed-use properties such as Atlanta's Atlantic Station were hosts Friday night for a benefit party at the store. A percentage of sales went to Turner's Captain Planet Foundation, an environmental organization.

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