By  on December 24, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS — Max Mara is on the move on Rodeo Drive.

The Italian fashion house relocated last month to a 4,900-square-foot retail space at 451 North Rodeo Drive that is two blocks north of its previous 3,000-square-foot boutique.

The store opened on Nov. 28, just in time for Black Friday shoppers, and joins the brand’s three existing stores in Los Angeles: a Max Mara in Century City, a Marina Rinaldi store — the group’s plus-size line — in Beverly Hills and Max&Co. store on Melrose Avenue, with a Sportmax store slated to open in March on Melrose Place.

Alisha Farmer, senior director of marketing for Max Mara USA, said the brand was mindful of the challenges of opening in the midst of the downturn.

“I think everyone’s aware and holding their breath,” she said. “But we’re a strong, well-placed brand with a long history, so we’re in it for the long haul.”

The store carries the Max Mara and Sportmax lines and accessories, as well as jewelry, handbags and footwear. Signature coats retail in the $2,000 range, with many dresses priced from $700 to $1,600 and shoes from $400 to $600.

The previous boutique was divided into two separate stores for Max Mara and Marina Rinaldi. “The old space was nice, but too small and it was time for an upgrade,” Farmer said. “This store is more modern and is a really great way to showcase the lines.”

The light, two-story space, which was under construction for about a year, has ceilings as high as 50 feet in some places, polished travertine floors, a nearly 8-foot Panasonic flat screen TV in a first-floor wall to display the Italian line’s runway shows, and other amenities like parking, a spacious VIP area and dressing room.

To celebrate the opening, the boutique also hosted an evening shopping event with Women in Film (WiF), the nonprofit dedicated to promoting women in the field of entertainment, where actress Elizabeth Banks joined WiF president Jane Fleming and Kate Flannery of “The Office” in some retail indulgence, with discounts of 40 percent and more on fall apparel.

Max Mara Fashion Group is one of the world’s largest women’s apparel companies with more than 2,250 stores and 23 different brands, including Max & Co, diffusion line SportMax and Marina Rinaldi sold in more than 90 different countries.

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