By  on December 27, 2005

MILAN — Valentino Garavani, Giancarlo Giammetti, Lavinia Biagiotti and the best of Rome's aristocracy, from Alessandra Borghese to Marisella Federici, crowded the opening of Versace's new store in Rome earlier this month.

Donatella Versace, with longtime friend Rupert Everett, Santo Versace and the company's chief executive officer, Giancarlo Di Risio, greeted guests at the two-level boutique in Via Bocca di Leone, off Piazza di Spagna and the famous Spanish Steps and near Via Condotti's luxury shopping promenade.

The store is modeled after the refurbished Milan boutique, in line with Versace's new store concept: cream-colored marble floors, light gray Marmorino plaster work on the walls, matte white ceilings, Antelio crystal and lacquered black wood furniture. The company, however, restructured the space while preserving and restoring its mosaic floor and mural decorations to maintain the heritage of the historical 18th-century palazzo Caffarelle. To preserve the original structure, paneling was used on the ceilings.

The 2,800-square-foot boutique carries the women's and men's wear collections, but also highlights the brand's home collection and, in particular, the expanding accessories category, including eyewear and the precious items division. Accessories for spring increased 50 percent compared with the previous year and are anticipated to account for 30 percent of revenues during the next three years.

A percentage of the sales made during the week before Dec. 22 will be donated to the Breast Health Institute, which does breast cancer research. The designer will lend her face throughout 2006 and donate the institute's first real ad campaign. To celebrate the launch of the campaign, Versace also was the host for a charity event on Dec. 13 in its refurbished London store.

New Versace boutiques in Hong Kong and Tokyo are slated to open by the end of 2006.

This past summer and fall, Versace opened 12 new and redesigned boutiques in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, and a boutique in Tokyo. The firm also restyled the Porto Cervo, Sardinia, boutique.

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