By  on October 12, 2007

DALLAS — Giorgio Armani has unveiled the company's first boutique here, which also marked the U.S. debut of a black and gray interior modeled after the signature decor at the Paris flagship.

The opening came after the designer's whirlwind three-day visit to the city in September, when he drew throngs of admirers and said Dallas customers were among his most devoted.

The 5,300-square-foot space at NorthPark Center is situated between Burberry and the Valentino store that is to open next month. Men's and women's accessories get star treatment at the front of the store. Women's shoes and handbags, including a popular blue python top-handle bag for $2,795, are displayed against a wall of horizontally fluted black lacquer. Men's leather goods include stingray wallets, alligator gloves and leather briefcases.

All the women's apparel is Black Label, including a crystal-beaded and hand-embroidered cropped silk jacket with puffy organza sleeves for $19,995 and a butterfly-print silk velvet dress for $3,250.

A phalanx of mannequins greets visitors to the women's clothing area at the center of the store, which features suits and cocktail attire. Men's apparel is displayed at the rear. Dove-gray pleated linen covers most walls and square columns for a rich treatment that is lower-key than the pleated satin wall treatment in Paris. Tables and fixtures sport a glossy black lacquer finish, contrasting with the neutral matte gray floor made of composite stone in oversize slabs.

"Everyone is responding to the look of the store," said Kameel Abbasi, general manager. "They are saying they don't have to go to New York anymore."

Armani is the first luxury store at NorthPark with a back door leading to the mall's 1.4-acre garden, Abbasi said. It is an oasis of seasonal landscaping and fragrant rosemary that also features a dramatic safety pin sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

Opening festivities for the boutique are set for Oct. 23 with a cocktail party. The company is donating $10,000 to support development of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.

"Dallas is an emerging city both in culture and fashion," a company spokesman said. "Everything is about a moment in time, and the time is now for Armani to celebrate the Dallas lifestyle — a tribute to style, luxe and heritage."The NorthPark unit is the 13th Giorgio Armani boutique in the U.S. Its decor won't necessarily be reproduced at future stores, the spokesman noted. "The decor of each new store depends on the location."

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