By  on January 4, 2007

NEW YORK — Just Cavalli, the younger diffusion line designed by Roberto Cavalli, is launching its first company-owned store in the U.S. on Fifth Avenue here.

The 2,850-square-foot flagship is to open in August at 665 Fifth Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd Streets, according to IT Holding, the clothing manufacturer that holds the brand's license.

Franchised Just Cavalli stores in the U.S. include two units in Los Angeles, two in Las Vegas and a location in Bal Harbour, Fla.

On Fifth Avenue, Just Cavalli will occupy reconfigured space made available by the departure of A. Testoni and the reconfiguration of St. John Knits. Testoni, which closed last January, will open at a new location on East 59th Street here on Jan. 20.

St. John Knits, which had occupied two noncontiguous stores on Fifth Avenue with A. Testoni in the middle, underwent a major remodeling last year. It kept its location on Fifth Avenue and the corner of 53rd Street and expanded south into the Testoni space, but gave up its original store south of Testoni and closer to 52nd Street.

Real estate brokers said the asking rent for the old St. John space was about $1,000 a square foot.

Roberto Cavalli has said that he plans to open 15 Just Cavalli stores in the U.S. in the next 18 months.

The brand is growing: Just Cavalli, which was launched in 1997, now accounts for 30 percent of IT Holding's sales.

With its trademark rock 'n' roll themes and sexy silhouettes, Just Cavalli, which is targeted to 16- to 30-year-olds, has resonated with young celebrities such as Kate Hudson and Alicia Keys. Prices range from $180 for T-shirts to $1,500 for leather jackets.

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