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Armani to Raise Couture Presence

Giorgio Armani, who rocked London Fashion Week last September with a huge Em­porio Armani event, is set to make another big splash.

PARIS — Giorgio Armani, who rocked London Fashion Week last September with a huge Em­porio Armani event, is set to make another big splash — this time at the Paris couture in January.

WWD has learned that the Italian designer is planning a series of large-scale events to intensify his couture presence and to mark the opening of a flagship on the Avenue Montaigne. According to sources, Armani will also use the occasion to unveil his first foray into skin care with prestige collections for women and men.

Armani officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

However, Didier Grum­bach, head of the Cham­bre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, confirmed that Armani has requested an evening time slot on Jan. 24 and booked a new and much larger venue: Paris’ Museum of Modern Art, which recently underwent a major renovation. It is currently the site of a Karen Kilimnik exhibition.

Previously, Armani opened couture week with two audiences numbering about 200 each in relatively small and modest digs, the firm’s showrooms on Rue Lauriston. Sources said the upcoming January couture show, with a gala dinner to follow, would accommodate approximately 600 guests, including the usual contingent of international celebrities.

Armani is also said to be planning a cocktail party to celebrate the new store. The unit, which replaces a previous flagship in Place Vendome, will be the latest addition to the city’s premier luxury strip, which recently welcomed Bottega Veneta, Chloé and Jimmy Choo boutiques. A lower-level suite for men’s made-to-measure clothing is among the features of the 4,300-square-foot Armani unit under construction.

The designer launched his Armani Privé couture collection in 2005, targeting both traditional couture buyers and clients for high-end ready-to-wear.

Initially focused on eveningwear, the collection has recently expanded to cocktail and daywear. Last July, Armani opened a couture showroom at 2 Avenue Montaigne to receive clients for sales and fittings.

Details about the skin care launch could not immediately be learned, but sources said the women’s creams would hit retail as early as fall 2007 and men’s products be layered on early in 2008.

Armani’s beauty business is licensed to French giant L’Oréal and has one of the strongest men’s fragrances worldwide, its Acqua di Gio for Men scent, a bestseller since its 1997 introduction.

This story first appeared in the November 27, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A color cosmetics collection was introduced in September 2001 in extremely tight distribution. The goal for 2006 was to grow product assortment by 80 percent, add door count and increase sales in the U.S. to $27 million at retail, according to industry sources.

All together, the Armani beauty business is estimated to ring up more than $200 million in retail sales yearly in the U.S.