By  on May 29, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Trend-driven Robertson Boulevard will get its first designer megabrand when Chanel unveils a new store concept on Friday that is geared to the street's distinct vibe.

The unit targets a younger crowd by offering a smaller, more tightly focused selection of products, rather than the full range of Chanel merchandise found in the Rodeo Drive flagship.

"Rodeo has the full gamut, from classics to trendy," said Barbara Cirkva, president of Chanel's fashion division. "But Robertson will focus, say, on the hottest bag of the season and have it in three sizes and seven colors. We will take an idea and explode it."

The merchandise will include products such as small leather goods and accessories in the $300 range, ballet flats for about $700, a classic quilted handbag for $2,700 and dresses from the Paris-London collection for $25,000.

The Rodeo Drive store will remain what Cirkva described as "the primary statement store in the marketplace."

Although the Robertson concept is smaller than the Beverly Hills flagship, it's far from diminutive. The two-floor, 5,400-square-foot store was designed by New York architect Peter Marino and includes a 1,000-square-foot courtyard and 625-square-foot terrace.

The open-space design of the boutique is intended to resemble a gallery, with clean, modernistic lines in an airy, cube-shaped space.

"Each time you go into another room, it's different. The idea is to always have it open and create open space," said architect Barry Winick, an associate of Marino.

Art will play a prominent role in the store. A photography exhibit will be displayed, and artist Robert Greene was commissioned to create two oil paintings with an alternating black-and-white pattern. One of the works hangs almost floor to ceiling at the base of the store's main staircase.

Cirkva said the new store concept would likely work in other cities, such as London and Tokyo, which have a variety of differentiated neighborhoods.

This is the only Chanel concept store that will open this year — an accessories boutique will launch in the Wynn Las Vegas in December, and the brand's store in Manhattan's SoHo will be renovated next year.Robertson has become a go-to spot for trendsetting, multiline boutiques such as Lisa Kline, Kitson and Curve, as well as a mecca for contemporary branded stores, from Tory Burch to True Religion.

Chanel is to be joined this year on the two-block stretch between Third Street and Beverly Boulevard by Dolce & Gabbana's D&G concept and Ralph Lauren.

The store's facade is made of seamless white plaster with a retractable, 20-foot-wide glass garage-type door that raises to reveal an open space with ceilings more than 15 feet high.

The design features signature Chanel black-and-white materials, modular fixtures and furniture that can be moved to showcase different collections, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that bring in natural light.

The center area of the main floor features a hall of six glass doors that open to the outside courtyard.

The Robertson store was originally slated to open early this month. Construction workers and Chanel staffers were busy installing fixtures and making other refinements late Wednesday. An opening party is scheduled for tonight.

"This was one of those projects where everything that could be delayed was — from the elevator to artwork to installations," Cirkva said. "We kept changing and coming up with new ideas as we went along."

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