By  on October 20, 2011

Sephora is opening its first Mexican store this morning in a swirl of colored light.

The new store, located in Antara Fashion Hall in the Polanco section of Mexico City, occupies an underground space measuring 5,400 square feet and is entered through a large circular stairway descending from a mall entrance above. The stairwell is encased by a circular 30-foot-high wall of blue LED lights, “like a giant black seashell,” said David Suliteanu, president and chief executive officer of Sephora Americas. The central shaft of the circular stairway is a media wall.

In 2012, Sephora plans to open more stores in Mexico City and elsewhere in the country, Suliteanu said, without elaborating.

A second Mexican store is scheduled to open in mid-November in the Paseo Interlomas Mall, also in Mexico City. Sephora is entering the country under a joint venture with Grupo Axo. The Sephora store was designed by a joint Mexican and American team coordinated by Paul Loux, vice president of design for Sephora USA.

Suliteanu said the Mexican market reminds him of the American market 13 years ago when Sephora arrived from France, a market dominated by “a handful of department stores” and a “handful of brands.” He indicated that Sephora can appeal to consumers “who want a different kind of experience in a playful, open environment with sales help who is not there to promote the brands but to assist the clients.” Suliteanu said he expects to get the same kind of “wow impact.”

He noted that specialty stores in Mexico are much smaller than in the U.S., so he expects this store to have “a much bigger impact than it would in the U.S.” He described the Antara store as a “typical” size when compared with the U.S. It is located on an underground level because that is the only way the company could obtain the right size footprint it needed.

The product assortment consists of more than 100 brands, 20 of which are not now found on the Mexican market. Some of them are Bare Escentuals, Make Up for Ever, Bliss, Boscia, Brazilian Peel, Clarisonic, Dr. Brandt, Fresh, gdh, Hello Kitty, Hourglass, Josie Maran, Kat Von D, Ole Henriksen, Ouidad, Peter Thomas Roth, Philosophy, Sephora Collection, Sephora by OPI, Stila, Temptu, Tokidoki, Urban Decay and Amika.

Makeup has a larger presence than in the U.S., Suliteanu said, and fragrance also has a larger presence. He added, however, that the store has a significant commitment to all the categories, including skin care.

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