By  on April 13, 2010

SINGAPORE — Gucci’s creative director, Frida Giannini, marked her first visit here Monday in a very special way — by having an orchid named after her. She also revealed plans for the brand to launch children’s wear later this year.

The city state, whose national flower is the orchid, creates and names special blooms for important guests who have included R&B star Rihanna and the late Princess Diana. The Paravanda Frida, a white flower with fuchsia tips, was also the inspiration for 88 limited edition Boston bags that Giannini designed only for Singapore to benefit a local children’s charity called Mainly I Love Kids, or MILK.

“It was very touching and I loved the thought that the orchid will still be there a few hundred years from now,” said Giannini. “I have never experienced such an honor before.’’

The white-and-pink Paravanda Frida bags sold out within a month of their launch in February. “I always feel surprised in a very positive way at how customers really relate to the brand,’’ said Giannini, who was in Singapore to officiate at the opening of the revamped Gucci flagship at the Paragon mall on Orchard Road.

The new store concept, with its gold and mirror accents, emphasizes the brand’s luxury credentials, even as it continues its expansion into Asia, a market with a growing appetite for luxury goods. At the end of last year, Gucci boasted 283 stores worldwide, 25 more than in 2008. Of these, 14 were in Asia, with seven in China alone.

Gucci’s president and chief executive officer Patrizio di Marco said there are plans to open at least 20 more stores in China alone in the next two years, in tandem with the renovation of existing stores to the new concept.

“Last year was a terrible year for everybody, but, thanks to Asia and especially China, we managed to mitigate the difficulties we encountered elsewhere,’’ he said. Last year, 33.2 percent of Gucci’s overall revenue was from Asia, up from 29 percent in 2008. Europe, previously a stronghold, contributed 32.9 percent of the brand’s revenue last year. “The Asian market has been growing exponentially. It will definitely overtake Europe at some point,’’ di Marco added.

But while Asia continues to be a key growth market for Gucci, there are no plans to design specific lines for it. Said Giannini: “The Asian customer has changed a lot over the years. They are very sophisticated. With every season that passes, the sales figures have shown that the differences between Asian and Western consumers are becoming tinier and tinier.’’

What Gucci intends to do, however, is to promote itself as a complete lifestyle brand, thereby encouraging customers to embrace Gucci totally in all aspects of their lives — from ready-to-wear, accessories and leather goods to homeware and jewelry.

In June, to complete this circle, di Marco said Gucci will unveil a children’s line, first in Italy and then worldwide, in about 40 stores.

It is a project for which Giannini feels an obvious affinity, as she has spearheaded Gucci’s efforts to help children worldwide, most notably through its continued partnership with UNICEF, and its collaboration with Rihanna on the Tattoo Heart range of bags, which raised funds for children in Africa.

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