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Vuitton Offers New Concept

FLORENCE — Louis Vuitton has put its stamp on Florence with the opening of a global concept store, and it took the opportunity to show off its new Tambour watch line, which includes a limited-edition chronograph, the LV277.<br><br>The retail...

FLORENCE — Louis Vuitton has put its stamp on Florence with the opening of a global concept store, and it took the opportunity to show off its new Tambour watch line, which includes a limited-edition chronograph, the LV277.

The retail spotlight was on the 5,400-square-foot, two-story store, located in Piazza Strozzi, in the heart of historic Florence. This store, opened late last month, is the company’s second in Italy. It replaces the former boutique located on Via Tornabuoni here. Vuitton has 14 other boutiques in Italy that carry more limited product ranges.

Based on estimates of $1,100 to $1,400 a square foot, the new site could ring up between $6 million and $7.5 million annually, according to analysts.

“History is one of the main assets of Louis Vuitton, so for this Florentine palazzo, we have adapted our architecture with artistic, artisan touches to better integrate with the context of this magnificent location,” said Bernardo Sanchez Incera, president of Louis Vuitton fashion products for Europe.

Architect Peter Marino converted the 18th-century Palazzo Mattei into the essence of the Vuitton universe, Italian style. Creamy ivory fabrics, punctuated with wood and polished avoria stone, create a living room-type space.

In October, Vuitton introduced a limited-edition chronograph watch for the Louis Vuitton Cup sailing race called LV277. It rings in at $6,500 and is named for both the number of parts in the watch and for the number of watches actually produced. The LV277 has a see-through back to view all mechanical parts.

The Tambour line, meanwhile, made its debut in mid-September in all of Vuitton’s global stores, and sales are, so far, exceeding expectations, said Sanchez Incera.

Retail prices range from about $1,200 to $2,500. Tambour watches have prominent window displays outside the new Florence store with bubble-like magnified areas for enhanced viewing.

Louis Vuitton has been strategically developing its product range in recent months, and an eyewear deal is said to be in the works.

This story first appeared in the December 20, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.