By  on July 20, 2005

LOS ANGELES — When it comes to retail environments, thinking globally might be the corporate mandate, as stores share a unified look regardless of location.

But, as Christian Dior recognized when it came to reopening an expanded Aspen boutique, only acting locally would do in the Rockies.

"I was regularly going to Aspen and observing how the women were shopping at our small store," recalled Marla Sabo, president and chief operating officer of Christian Dior Couture USA, of the prime location at 201 South Galena Street. "They would tend to relax on a banquette and choose their dresses, shoes, their handbags and jewelry in a very relaxed way. And it was in a way that was really about wardrobing themselves."

So, after the space next door became available when Louis Vuitton moved across the street — allowing the Dior store to double in size to 1,200 square feet — the company opted to break from the high gloss, high concept of its retail environments.

"We decided this store would need to be far more residential in style," Sabo said.

To that end, the Dior in-house team introduced pale parquet floors and snow white and opalescent gray Louis XIV chairs positioned center stage on the selling floor. Unlike its distinct addresses elsewhere, the Aspen location occupies a landmark brick building that was once a bank. In fact, the old vault remains as a unique decorative element.

There are plenty of signature Dior elements found at the other doors, to be sure: white lacquered walls, glass box cases and leather upholstered banquettes. And, as with many other Dior stores, the modern front room is filled with handbags on white shelves and Lucite fixtures.

Combined with classic moldings and furnishings, the entire setting suggests an intimate salon.

"We wanted the store to function almost as if it's a dressing room. There's a home-like feel to it," Sabo said. "So people are encouraged to relax and take their time and receive the best customer service we can offer. It really goes back to the idea of a couture salon type of atmosphere — not unlike the Dior salon in Paris."

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