Blumarine's U.S. retail arrival is a holiday story, of sorts.
Vacationing with her family in 2006, Adriana Alzetta, Blumarine's Milan showroom manager, was checking out the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, Fla. The shopping center, with its gardens, towering Christmas tree and crowds, appealed to her personal aesthetics and business sense. "I asked my son, Filippo, who was in real estate in New York, 'Why not put a Blumarine store here?'" she recalled.
Fast-forward to one year later: Blumarine's first U.S. store has been open since Christmas Eve. Filippo Alzetta has an exclusive franchise option for the Americas and hopes to expand to New York, Los Angeles and possibly Las Vegas or Hawaii.
"The goal is three to four boutiques in the next few years," he said.
The speedy launch stemmed from demand, said Adriana Alzetta, who added that visiting Latin American customers are a major factor. The 2,000-square-foot store is the company's biggest outside Tokyo.
Architect Elena Busato's new prototype features pale blue Venetian plaster walls and ceiling, inspired by designer Anna Molinari's favorite color and based on the sea. Murano glass chandeliers sparkle, tables have peppermint stick-like swirled legs and there is a mirrored cash wrap. Contrasting with the twinkling elements are soft beige tufted leather walls and benches and sweeping sheer curtains in the dressing rooms.
Demonstrating a central display case with a lid that flips up to reveal a fountain or folds down to hold a floral arrangement and products, Filippo Alzetta said he favors the design tricks and technology in the store. Two large vertical video panels play DVDs of runway shows.
He estimated that more than 50 percent of the spring 2008 collection, or roughly 650 items including those from the Blugirl diffusion line, are featured in the store. Coincidentally, the season corresponds with Miami's penchant for bright colors — orange, lime green and canary yellow — animal prints and sexy, beach staples such as short shorts, caftans and halters that plunge to the navel.
"After the spring fashion show last fall, I told Anna it seemed like she designed this collection with Miami in mind," Adriana Alzetta said.A sleeveless minidress in an Art Deco and floral pattern of white or champagne sequins for $3,500, which was showcased in the window, sold out. Other bestsellers include a beaded chiffon tunic in blue and white, lace and a floral print for $890, and black capris embellished with gold grommets threaded with silky rope or a Swarovski crystal hem detail and logo, for $764 and $775, respectively. The company is stepping up its accessories division, too, Adriana Alzetta said.
A sprinkling of handbags, shoes and belts is in the store, with more to come for fall 2008. So far, a black metal watch with a star and fire crystal face for $400 and a Baroque-meets-Western cuff with chunky turquoise stones for $381 are selling well.
Blugirl, which ranges from sexy to sweet, is selling nicely, too. A pink-and-white sheath dress with fringe for $869 and matching cropped jacket, $1,147, are popular.
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