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Brioni Women’s Line Has New Home in N.Y.

NEW YORK — After years of catering exclusively to men, the luxury Italian brand Brioni has turned its eye to women with a new stand-alone boutique here.<br><br>Located at 67 East 57th Street, adjacent to the Brioni men’s store and situated...

NEW YORK — After years of catering exclusively to men, the luxury Italian brand Brioni has turned its eye to women with a new stand-alone boutique here.

Located at 67 East 57th Street, adjacent to the Brioni men’s store and situated at the base of the Four Seasons Hotel, the shop is a study in luxe feminine comforts. The 1,500-square-foot space is decorated in warm beige tones with mosaic floors, lacquered display cases, warm parchment wall sections and bronze fixtures.

“We wanted to make the design a bridge between the European and American cultures,” said Fausto Ghemi di Mombaruzzo, one of the store’s architects, “and to use materials that were used during the Bauhaus movement.” The space is furnished with yellow velvet chairs and a lavender settee from 1920s Vienna, along with plush cushions for languorous sittings.

The Brioni women’s line, which made its debut in spring 2001, includes offerings equal in luxury to the men’s line with sheared minks, cashmere coats, herringbone suits and sumptuous knits, as well as accessories such as handbags, small leather goods and gloves. Retail prices average $2,300 for jackets, $2,100 for coats, $500 for trousers, $775 for silk blouses and $600 for skirts.

The New York flagship marks the second freestanding women’s store for the company — the first opened in Milan this year.

“America is our biggest market. It constitutes 35 percent of our men’s business,” said Umberto Angeloni, Brioni’s chairman. “This is where our name is strongest, so a New York women’s store was a natural addition.”

The company, however, isn’t interested in opening any more, said Angeloni, but will continue creating women’s shops within their larger men’s stores. A London in-store shop is next on the agenda.

Angeloni expects the women’s store to break even in the first year, but was reluctant to give a more definitive forecast due to an uncertain economy and worsening international affairs.

Currently, approximately 20 percent of Brioni’s business (sales for 2001 totaled $150 million) is retail, while the remainder is wholesale. The women’s line is carried by retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Wilkes Bashford and Janet Brown.

This story first appeared in the October 23, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Angeloni said that the company wasn’t interested in boosting that figure beyond one-third. “We don’t want to become a chain of stores.”

The shop bowed quietly several weeks ago, but the official opening will be marked with a fete tonight at the store.