By  on November 11, 2005

BEVERLY HILLS — Coach might have had to rearrange the decorations because of a heavy downpour Wednesday might, but the weather certainly didn't deter the town's boldface shoppers from turning out at a party to mark the opening of the brand's flagship on Rodeo Drive.Coach was forced to erect a tent on top of the parking building, the roof of which was covered in sisal matting and appointed like a white and silver nightclub. But the rain also had a positive impact. "I had to get this umbrella because of the rain," insisted Sarah Wynter, "and this bag, well, just because." Courteney Cox and husband David Arquette huddled over leather wristlets resembling lemon slices, while Rita Wilson successfully convinced Nia Vardalos to buy a large tote festooned in coral and fish for her next trip to Greece; she did, along with a half-dozen bracelets for her cousins. Nicole Richie, Camilla Belle, Michelle Trachtenberg, Poppy Montgomery and Marsha Thomason also turned out for a good cause. The frenzy around the new spring bags, trenchcoats and weekender duffles, all specially produced in advance for the event, resulted in $50,000 for the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation."I'm excited to meet anyone since I don't get the chance too much," beamed Coach president and executive creative director Reed Krakoff about the famous turnout, which even had Jeremy Piven and Alan Cumming poring over the new men's dob bag and totes.Krakoff and wife Delphine had spent the previous 48 hours shopping Robertson Boulevard, hitting art galleries and even test-driving a car, although he remained mum on the make.Though the party's action took place high above Rodeo, it was the new store that was the true star.Modern and light-filled, the 3,365-square-foot door reflects Coach's new direction, which is being applied to all its 248 doors in North America. The Rodeo door is the company's fourth in the Los Angeles area, which already counts Coach stores nearby at the Beverly Center, Century City and The Grove at Farmer's Market.The $1.7 billion accessories firm unveils its redesigned New York flagship at 57th Street and Madison Avenue next week."I'm going straight from the airport in New York to the store for a 6 a.m. walk-through," said Mike Tucci, president of the Coach retail division in North America.While he wouldn't comment on numbers, Tucci said sales since the Rodeo Drive store opened Nov. 4 have exceeded expectations, adding the successful reception came from locals and particularly Asian tourists.But Debra Messing admitted she might not be back at a Coach store too soon. She scored two Daphnes — one of spring's expected "It" bags — along with several other buys stuffed into two enormous shopping bags, which knocked down several chairs as she dragged them out the door.

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