By  on May 4, 2007

BEVERLY HILLS — After five months and $5 million, Escada is opening a renovated 6,000-square-foot flagship here today, revealing a sleek new store concept that targets a younger, hipper customer while staying true to the brand's classic aesthetics.

The company has been working to reinvigorate the brand's image without alienating its core clientele. New creative director Damiano Biella's debut collection for fall reflected the more youthful direction.

The store concept replaces Escada's staid ivory-and-brass decor with updated neutrals such as silver, plum and black. "The idea was to create a neutral color palette, but not go with the traditional neutrals," said Lawrence DeParis, U.S. president and chief operating officer.

Central to the revamp was the creation of 14 small rooms that flow into one another, each housing different categories and subcollections of merchandise.

"The store used to be much more of an open space," DeParis said. "It now has a more residential feel. It's like a luxury home."

Sales at the store, which is on street level in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, comprise around 20 percent of total retail sales in the U.S., second only to the company's New York flagship. Ready-to-wear prices range from around $150 for a logo T-shirt from the Escada Sport line to $60,000 for a chinchilla coat, with dresses and suits around $2,000.

"[The store] is really feminine and luxurious," said Frank Rheinboldt, chief executive officer. "It's very warm. The clients don't like a too-cool concept….We really want the customer to feel that they are home. We don't want to be a black box or a refrigerator."

Rheinboldt said the store was overdue for a facelift: "It has our first-generation store concept. We have rolled out three generations after that."

A temporary Escada store was open across the street on Wilshire Boulevard during much of the renovation before closing in March.

The project is part of a worldwide refurbishment program the company launched in October. "We are spending a lot of money to upgrade our stores and put the new shop concept in," said Rheinboldt, who added that Escada plans to redo 20 to 25 stores this year, and another 20 to 25 next year.

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