By  on December 6, 2005

HONG KONG — Boasting a five-story facade equipped with 210,000 glittering LEDs, Chanel's largest flagship here opened Monday, a beacon of luxury that can be seen all the way from mainland China across the harbor.

"Greater China is growing, and with a big potential," said Chanel SA president Francoise Montenay during a walk-through of the 8,000-square-foot unit at the epicenter of Hong Kong's booming financial district.

The largest of seven Chanel locations here, and the brand's biggest Asian flagship after the Ginza building in Tokyo, the boutique in the Prince's Building is among the first of several major volleys by the company in the region. Montenay disclosed that Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, slated to unveil a pre-fall collection of luxury ready-to-wear in New York on Wednesday, will travel to Hong Kong on March 24 to do an encore of his January couture show in Paris. The designer also will shoot Chanel's fall ready-to-wear campaign here at the same time, she added.

Also in 2006, Chanel will unveil a revamped location here in Lee Gardens, its second most-important outlet, as well as open its first boutique in Macau, the burgeoning casino and resort destination that's only a short boat ride away. It's also eyeing a major flagship for Beijing in 2007, adding to a hotel-based unit it already operates there.

Monday's opening festivities, with double-decker buses ferrying guests from a store cocktail party to a gala dinner, were to be followed by two days of fashion shows in the boutique promoting the cruise collection, emblematic of Chanel's desire to offer Chinese consumers a world-class shopping experience — and a crash course in its illustrious history. To wit: Montenay said Chanel would soon fly in experts from the couture ateliers it owns, including the shoemaker Massaro and the feather and flower house Lemarie, to give demonstrations of French savoir faire.

Chanel has operated a boutique in the Prince's Building since 1986, but its latest reincarnation extends to three shopping levels, each a warren of salons for handbags, footwear, ready-to-wear and eyewear, plus an annex for beauty products.

Montenay and Philippe Mougenot, president of watches and fine jewelry, also unveiled a new design concept for that category, based on the idea of an apartment: namely that of founder Gabrielle Chanel.

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