By  on March 9, 2006

BOSTON — With confidence and cool, quirky attitude, Barneys New York on Friday is bringing its brand of modern luxury to this city synonymous with the preppy look.

The store opening in the Copley Place complex is Barneys first new flagship since the launch of the Beverly Hills unit in 1993, and is a measure of the retailer’s strategy to grow into a billion-dollar business.

The unit here, which joins Neiman Marcus, Tiffany, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other retailers at Copley Place, captures the Barneys’ aesthetic in a retail environment that is anything but predictable and is filled with visual eye candy.

“Vivre la difference,” Howard Socol, chairman, chief executive and president, said Monday during a tour of the two-level, 45,000-square-foot store. “We are showing Boston our Barneys assortment.”

Commenting on perceptions or misconceptions about what Bostonians prefer to buy, Socol said, “I don’t think you can categorize Boston. We are going to attract a really fashionable customer, a customer who likes to try new things and who likes a very artful aesthetic. We will tweak collections and learn which are better for this city and other cities, but this is a Barneys presentation.”

The Madison Avenue flagship attracts plenty of Bostonians, so there already is a customer in Beantown, he said. Even more important, Socol said consumers are seeking a retail experience that challenges the status quo and merchandising sameness that plagues malls.

“This is a specialty store,’’ he said. “We are not trying to be a department store. It’s an edited assortment. Other stores carry many, many more brands than we do. We offer a different and very special experience. We are very interested in architectural design. This is a very open space. You can see every product category,” upon entering the store.

Yet it is not uniformly designed, with men’s wear bearing a more woodsy, clubby feeling, while women’s designer is like a white gallery space.

With any store there is an element of risk, but Barneys’ aggressive expansion plans and long hiatus from opening a flagship have generated great anticipation. “Do we feel confident? Yes,’’ Socol said. “We’ve had three years of outstanding growth.” He would not disclose the projected sales volume for the Boston store.

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