By  on July 23, 2007

MILAN — With the makeover of its third floor, La Rinascente wants customers to walk away with new and edgy wares to rev up their closets.

Milan's leading department store, which faces the Duomo cathedral, has renovated 24,840 square feet of selling space to house an eclectic mix of brands displayed in shop-in-shops, corners and more generic areas.

The space was redesigned by Dutch architect Vincent Van Duysen, who has lent his creative touch to Dries Van Noten and Selfridges. He counterbalanced minimalism with a warm and organic feel. "We wanted something sophisticated, but never intimidating, so no cement or mirrors," said fashion director Tiziana Cardini.

Key materials include bleached oak floors and grid panels, polished basalt columns, sanded steel and cube installations in gray varnish, oak and lacquered canopy.

"Our target is a clientele attentive to fashion trends that isn't a victim, a woman who likes to mix and match different resources and who seeks good quality price ratios," said Cardini, who wore a gray cotton dress by Velvet and a black patent Chanel shoulder bag.

The floor is divided in three areas: fast fashion, a jeans bar and designer second-line shop-in-shops.

The lines include Pinko, Laltramoda, Target, Vanessa Bruno, Diesel, Seven For All Mankind, True Religion, Velvet, DVB, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Cacharel, See by Chloe, Moschino Cheap & Chic, Valentino Red and Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti.

Cardini noted that it is still premature for La Rinascente to snap up first-line ready-to-wear labels, considering the surrounding gridlock of designer boutiques.

That said, premium brands play a pivotal role on the ground floor, the first to get a makeover, where customers can indulge with bags by Louis Vuitton, Dior, Miu Miu, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent.

The third floor, instead, underscores the importance of a hot shoe to update last season's piece of clothing with a 3,240-square-foot footwear department that carries Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin, Kurt Geiger, Giuseppe Zanotti, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ugg, Stella McCartney and Tory Burch, among others.Cardini said a substantial effort was made to replace the sales force of 50 people on the floor. The idea was to hire younger and more international professionals, no simple task in Italy where labor laws are protective of workers.

In line with the company's policy, the investment for the renovation and first-year sales projections were not disclosed.

The floor's new look is part of a relaunch package sealed by the Borletti family in 2005 when they formed a consortium called Tamerice Srl to buy the chain from Eurofind Textile. The acquisition of the group, which counts 18 La Rinascente stores and 148 mass market Upim stores in Italy, cost $1.15 billion.

Aldo and Senatore Borletti founded La Rinascente in the Twenties and the goal of Aldo's grandson, chairman Maurizio Borletti, is to elevate La Rinascente's product and image from a midtier to a high-end range.

In May 2005, retail expert Vittorio Radice was named chief executive officer and given the mandate to revitalize La Rinascente after previously transforming Selfridges into a hot retail property.

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