DALLAS — Chanel has gotten a Texas-sized upgrade here.

The company moved its 17-year-old store to bigger, remodeled quarters in a more visible location within Highland Park Village shopping center.

Opened Saturday following a packed party Friday night, Chanel’s new Dallas store sports the slick Peter Marino-designed decor that bowed in Paris and is being rolled out to its stores.

"We see potential here," asserted Arie Kopelman, president and chief operating officer of Chanel Inc., the American arm of the iconic French house. He said the store’s performance warranted a major investment in a larger space.

Mainland U.S. stores as a whole exceeded plan in 2002, noted Barbara Cirkva, executive vice president. Chanel has 23 stores in the U.S. and Guam, and all stores in flagship markets are due to be converted to the new decor by the end of this year.

At 4,000 square feet, the new Dallas unit is 500 square feet larger than the original store and has the advantage of being all on one floor. The former store was on two floors with somewhat choppy rooms.

Chanel executives declined to reveal sales, but high-end stores at Highland Park Village typically reap $800 to $1,000 per foot in annual sales, putting the new store’s volume somewhere north of $4 million.

"The advantage of having it on one floor makes for an energetic relationship among all the different product categories," Cirkva explained. "It was always separated before, between ready-to-wear, accessories and shoes. The way people shop today is all about putting together a look, so it’s much easier to go from product to product when it’s all on one floor."

It features a wall of sunglasses that was introduced in Orlando last October and will be rolled out to other stores as they are renovated. Another highlight is a "feature wall" of four ivory computer-controlled screens that move to create different views of the merchandise displayed behind it.

The opening bash drew an unusual mix of Dallas’ old and new social strata, from dowagers to prime movers of the city’s art and charitable communities.

Henry S. Miller 2nd, who built Highland Park Village shopping center in 1931, and his wife, Juanita, made a rare appearance at the fete. Earlier in the day, Miller had been deemed an Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters by the French-American Chamber of Commerce in recognition of his efforts to promote French culture.His wife quipped: "He was just knighted."

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