By  on March 19, 2010

MILAN — “The Italian market is difficult not only due to its geography but because there are so many different players. Our new flagship will ensure Sephora is recognized as a major player,” said Oliver Schaeffer, managing director international & development for Sephora, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned perfumery at the brand’s first Italian flagship on Corso Vittorio Emanuele that opened here recently.

Resembling a department store rather than a traditional perfumery, the new flagship contains 11,110 square feet on three floors.

“We’ve used the French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte to help us with lighting and to showcase the product better than it has been in the past,” said Schaeffer of the store’s energy-saving LED lights, which will be used in another 50 stores, due to open by the end of this year.

Sephora’s distinctive black and white design remains, but shopping has been aided by color spots on top of shelving units to highlight product offers. Blue circles indicate Sephora exclusives, green represents skin care and pink is for fragrance. “The idea was to adapt the concept without breaking it,” noted Schaeffer.

The flagship’s ground floor is dedicated to makeup and showcases Sephora’s signature brands such as Benefit, Bare Escentuals, Urban Decay and Cargo, alongside established names such as Chanel and Estée Lauder. New to Italy, is Make Up For Ever’s makeup school. Prices start from 25 euros, or $34, for a basic tutorial. Other in-store services include Benefit’s Brow Bar offering eyebrow shaping and Urban Decay’s Lash Bar that provides false eyelash application.

Dior is the first brand to utilize the store’s raised platform resembling a promotional stage, situated within the 330-square-foot store entrance.The lower ground floor features established skin care products alongside cosmeceuticals lines, such as Dr. Brandt, Rexaline, GoodskinLab and Strivectin. “We’re pushing skin care products that were traditionally sold in pharmacies,” said Laura Schiatti, marketing director of Sephora Italy.

Two holistic brands make their Italian debut in the flagship’s designated skin care area. Erborian, a holistic Korean skin care line and Chinese brand Herborist. More shelf space has been dedicated to men’s skin care.

A mezzanine floor, suspended over the store’s makeup area, is linked by a crystal stairway and will host pop-up stores and temporary spas. The space recently showcased a photography exhibition by Dior makeup director Tyen.

“The flagship is an important message that despite the economic outlook, Sephora is ready to challenge the situation. We plan to opensix new stores this year, including the flagship,” said Roberto Forcherio, managing director Sephora Italy. Stores in Via del Tritone in Rome and Turin’s Porta Nuova station are set to open later this year. Sephora has 101 stores in Italy.

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