By  on April 28, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS — Luxury Italian footwear maker Rene Caovilla is kicking up its heels on Rodeo Drive.

Earlier this month, the brand opened its second U.S. store in a 1,600-square-foot space next door to Jimmy Choo's new home. Caovilla has been in Palm Beach, Fla., since 2006.

Caovilla's shoes are made entirely by hand, with jewels, beading and other ornamentation hand-set in the Italian leather — and the cost reflects the craftsmanship. The average shoe price is more than $1,000, with bags and clutches averaging around $2,500. The boutique also carries accessories, scarves and belts.

"Beverly Hills is a key location to purchase luxury goods in the United States; we wanted to find a West Coast home where women appreciate Italian luxury goods," said Giorgia Caovilla, company vice president and daughter of founder Rene Caovilla. "The celebrity scene in Los Angeles is second to none and it was a natural place to open our second U.S. store. L.A. style has come a long way and we want a customer who appreciates how to wear a shoe from day to night."

The store, which has a 10-year lease with an option to renew, will have exclusives and will stock more than 200 styles of shoes and accessories, compared with the Palm Beach shop, which carries about 100 styles, and stores like Neiman Marcus that stock around 30.

Construction on the Beverly Hills shop started in February. All the stores feature the same design: Venetian-inspired decor mixes traditional Italian style with modern touches, including gold leaf display tables, 18th-century antique couches and chairs, Italian carpets, wall tapestries and modern paintings.

"The foot traffic here will be good for business, and we have a great celebrity clientele," said Gerard Cohen, who holds the U.S. franchising rights for the brand.

The other Caovilla stores are in Milan, Rome, Paris, London, Tokyo and Dubai. The Caovilla family plans to continue the brand's expansion in the next two years with stores in Bal Harbour, Fla., New York, Miami, Moscow, Hong Kong and Venice.

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