By  on February 5, 2008

BOSTON — Almost a dozen Louis Vuitton staffers, flown in from New York and Paris last week, primped the renovated Copley Place store here for its close-up.

They steamed wrinkles from cruise ready-to-wear, arranged shoes just so and polished the brand's signature brass railings and rods.

Today, the new, 7,200-square-foot space — more than double the original size — will launch carrying the brand's entire product range. It is one of Vuitton's biggest U.S. store projects this year, said Daniel Lalonde, president and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton North America.

"We analyzed some of the business being done by our New England customers in other markets and we understood there is an untapped market," he said. "We are convinced that there is a sophisticated customer with an appetite for right-off-the-runway products."

The unit is designated as a global store — meaning it carries not just leather goods but the full range of branded product for both men and women. It's the 15th global store in North America. The brand has 74 such stores worldwide among its 390 total stores.

Leather goods and accessories are at front, creating a familiar entrance for customers who have patronized the store for the last 20-plus years. Vuitton was one of Copley Place's original tenants when the luxury property opened in 1984. In the center, partitioning walls inset with glass display cases have been erected to create a new, secluded fine jewelry area.

Beyond jewelry, the store opens into new territory — two separate spaces for men's and women's shoes and rtw. In the dressing room, the men's side features zebrano wood, a dark wood rippled with a caramel-colored grain. The women's side is done in a lighter palette, with ivory linen walls. Both the men's and women's sides have lounge areas with modern leather furniture.

Vuitton would not disclose the renovation cost, but the changes are comprehensive. The ceiling was pushed up about 3 feet to create a tray ceiling finished with Venetian plaster squares that mimic the signature Damier print. The 185-foot metal-and-glass facade also has a Damier motif.

Christian Dior, which is on the same floor as Louis Vuitton in Copley Place, renovated and added rtw last year.Lalonde said Louis Vuitton's overhaul is not a competitive response. The brand also opened a store in Natick Collection, outside Boston, last September, a door that Lalonde said is performing "exceptionally well."

Asked whether a recession would cause the brand to scale back this year, Lalonde said the company "is watching how the market is responding....Right now we're sticking to the plan we put in place."

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