By  on November 10, 2005

DALLAS — Nordstrom will push its way into Neiman Marcus’ backyard at NorthPark Center here on Friday when it unveils a store that has one of the largest selections of designer merchandise in the chain.

“There aren’t many better designer markets in the world than there are in Dallas, so we want to go in there with the best representation we can,” Pete Nordstrom, president of full-line Nordstrom stores, said in an interview. “Our biggest opportunity is to take business away from other retailers who are already doing business in that center.”

The store, with boutique areas that will be replicated elsewhere in the 98-unit chain, will have Nordstrom’s first couture department in Dallas, offering clothing by designers Christian Lacroix, Monique Lhuillier and Oscar de la Renta. The adjacent Collectors sportswear area has shops-in-shops for Roberto Cavalli, Blumarine, Chloé and Donna Karan, among others. In addition, the Via C boutique carries younger collections such as Tracy Reese, Sass & Bide and See by Chloé.

“We want that upper-end customer to say, ‘Wow, these guys are really in this designer business,’” Nordstrom said.

The company’s push to build designer commerce will intensify in February when it adds a designer component to its Web site, though it won’t be transactional until late spring, he said.

“We’d like to have a seamless offering on the Web of anything we do in the stores,” Nordstrom said. “Designer is a great growth part of our business, and it makes sense to offer it [online].”

An opening party for the store Wednesday night was to benefit the Junior League of Dallas, the Links Incorporated organization and the Dallas Museum of Art.

Built as part of a $200 million expansion of the mall, the Nordstrom at NorthPark is the chain’s second store in the city and fourth in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. It is expected to beat the retailer’s sales average of $347 per square foot, though Nordstrom wouldn’t discuss projections. NorthPark officials have pegged the mall’s revenue at $615 a square foot.

With three levels spread across 200,000 square feet, the unit is larger than the chain’s average and designed to resemble a series of boutiques. The more efficient layout yielded more selling space. The company does not break out sales per square footage in its stores.Tall but transparent display fixtures  are a new technique to define departments without isolating them.

“We want to create a specialized room to feature unique and special merchandise, but not have it be a room that is blocked off and disconnected from the rest of the store,” said Dave Lindsey, vice president of store planning.

In the Savvy contemporary department on the second level, for instance, cream metallic tweed jackets and lace skirts by Tom K. Nguyen hang in molded clear plastic wardrobes. The department’s new look blends furnishings from a variety of periods, including an Art Deco-influenced cream and gold faux chest and contemporary chairs and ottomans, with Victorian-style white-and-gray paisley wallpaper.

Next door, the denim-centric “t.b.d.” department has been given a distinct visual vocabulary for the first time at the chain. Vivid yellow and hot pink mannequins contrast with dark gray walls in an area that houses Seven for All Mankind, Free People and Lacoste.

Nearby, classic crystal and glass chandeliers encased in translucent smoky plastic tubes hang over Trend shop accessories and cosmetics counters — discrete, question-mark-shape counters bearing handbags by Ipa-Nema and beauty products by Laura Mercier, among others. These displays are separate from the larger accessories and cosmetics departments on the main floor.

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