Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK--With workmen furiously toiling around the clock on the finishing touches, Salvatore Ferragamo's U.S women's flagship--its largest women's store in the world-- officially opened Thursday.
The 14,500-square-foot boutique at 661 Fifth Avenue, between East 52nd and 53rd Streets, features the Italian firm's most expansive presentations of its accessories, footwear and ready-to-wear collections in a design that will be the prototype for all future Ferragamo stores.
The store is expected to rack up sales of more than $25 million in its first year, according to Massimo Ferragamo, president of North American operations, and represents a sizable expansion over its established women's store here. That 2,500-square-foot shop in Trump Tower will become Ferragamo's men's U.S. flagship sometime in November.
The new location has opened quietly, but will have a grand opening event in the fall.
Designed by Florence architect Roberto Monsani, who designs all the Ferragamo stores worldwide, the store has an exterior of limestone and black granite. The interior features a neutral palette of beige and black, with a polished granite floor and black lacquered wood walls and fixtures. Beige leather club chairs and black vitrines topped with clear acrylic display boxes provide accents for specific merchandise areas.
Huge black and white archival photos of company founder Salvatore Ferragamo with some of his celebrity clientele have been reproduced directly on lacquered wood panels and are spread around the store. Among the celebrities: Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Gene Tierney, Paulette Goddard and the Duchess of Windsor.
The store's four windows feature images and merchandise from the fall advertising campaign, including a shoe, a handbag, silk accessories and clothing.
Leather goods, including luggage, handbags and belts, occupy the front third of the store. Silk accessories and rtw fill the middle third and shoes take up the rest of the selling floor. Because the space is larger, there is ample room to display items like scarves, which are presented on mannequins and wrapped around a long rod on the wall. The basement can store 30,000 pairs of shoes.
The new store also offers some unusual consumer services, making the shopping experience more civilized than ever.
"Service is a major focus of this store," said Ferragamo. "In our previous location, the volume of traffic frankly impeded our efforts to offer the kind of comfortable shopping environment our customers expect."
Among the indulgences customers will be treated to: a shoe conditioning service--a customer's own shoes will be cleaned and polished while new purchases are being made--and personal shopping services by appointment. There are four fitting rooms, each equipped with a club chair and vanity table and mirror and full-length mirrors.
While the new store is for women, men are not completely ignored. Knowing that women buy many men's items, Ferragamo merchandisers display a wide selection of ties near the other silk accessories, and there are luggage pieces suitable for men or women.
The new store gives Ferragamo 30 boutiques worldwide, eight of which are in the U.S., including a 6,000-square foot men's and women's store in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, Calif., opened last March. It will open a 10,000-square-foot men's and women's store in Chicago at 645 North Michigan Avenue next March.
Ferragamo has said it expects to reach a total volume of $625 million this year, a 43 percent increase over 1995. This figure does not include the Emanuel Ungaro business, in which Ferragamo acquired a majority stake in July.

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