By  on August 1, 2007

BEVERLY HILLS — Swiss design house Bally reopened its Rodeo Drive store here on Friday to unveil a look with a more residential feel.

The company characterized the revamp as more of an update" than a complete overhaul, with the goals of infusing rich, warm-toned colors into the mostly white unit and creating the illusion of more space in its apparel sections. The renovation was expected to take three weeks, but contractors finished in two.

The short turnaround time could be a by-product of practice makes perfect: The 4,600-square-foot store is one of the last of around 150 units to be renovated since February 2006. Bally began implementing the new look with its Madison Avenue location in Manhattan, and will renovate its final store this fall in Houston. There are 225 freestanding company-owned and franchised Bally stores worldwide, in addition to 149 airport boutiques.

"We are now in the final completion process, having upgraded and refurbished the retail network globally," said chief executive officer Marco Franchini.

He said the Beverly Hills store redo was timed to coincide with the debut collection of the company's new creative director, Brian Atwood, an accessories designer who honed his skills as chief designer for women's accessories at Versace in the mid-Nineties.

Bally, which was founded in 1851, is known for its soft leather bags and shoes, but the new design also seeks to bring women's ready-to-wear into focus.

The women's department, formerly divided into two small sections, is now one large, airy space that encompasses women's apparel and accessories.

"We've now created a full women's department," said Rosi Bieheller, visual director for the company. "Visually, everything corresponds with everything — the shoes, the bags, the clothes." The men's department, located in the back of the store, received similar treatment.

Prices for women's apparel range from $130 for a polo shirt to about $1,500 for a leather jacket. Leather handbags sell for between $800 for basic styles to around $1,500 for pony skin models.

Mocha-tinted floor-to-ceiling glass panels were installed on the accessories wall, which was also updated with rows of white shelves.

"We used to merchandise on one, low shelf that ran the length of the store," Bieheller said. "Now we're creating more height."The bases of the store's display cases, which are filled with bags and shoes, have been painted a dark bronze hue to match new wall and accessories fixtures. Sixties-inspired white boucle sofas replaced nondescript ottomans. Mocha-toned leather side tables and shoe stands were also added.

"It's really a lounge atmosphere," Bieheller said. "It's an environment where you want to sit down and hang out."

Although the company has been focused on renovation, Bally has also been expanding its retail base. New locations in Basel, Switzerland, Berlin and Beijing opened this year and Franchini said the company is considering units in San Francisco and Miami.

Franchini declined to disclose sales projections for Beverly Hills, but said, "With Brian's arrival, we are forecasting continued growth, particularly in the U.S. market."

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