Milan Fashion Brands Open Stores

Prada, Miu Miu, Max Mara and Versace all open new units.

Inside the new Prada.

New stores with strong visual elements continue to be a priority for Italian fashion houses.

This story first appeared in the December 11, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Prada, for one, just unveiled a 2,270-square-foot store inside Pavillion, a prestige shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where architect Roberto Baciocchi created a special facade that is a mix of backlit aluminum sections and titanium and bronze finishes that cast a strong kinetic effect.

The two-level shop carries Prada’s full clothing and accessories assortments for women and men. The store has a black marble staircase, bronzed mirrors and dashes of color coming from lilac velvet seats and pale green linen wallpaper.

Baciocchi also designed Miu Miu’s first store in Madrid, modeling it on the house’s signature damask, brocade, dull gold metal and wood design. The two-level unit, housed inside a 19th-century palazzo, spreads across 7,600 square feet with a large staircase sandwiched between two separate areas dedicated to bags and footwear. The upper floor houses apparel.

Versace recently cut the ribbon to its first boutique in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, located at Dongh Khoi Street District 1. The one-level outpost covers 2,160 square feet and follows the house’s more modern and streamlined blueprint.

Black marble floors offset white lacquer woodwork and polished stainless steel, but the pièce de résistance is the chandelier, a 25-foot-tall clear blown-glass curtain. The store sells Versace ready-to-wear, accessories, eyewear and fragrances.

“Following the previously announced investment plan of 45 million euros [or $57.5 million at current exchange] to open 11 new Asian boutiques, this boutique in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, reconfirms the Versace Group’s strong expansion plan in the Greater Asian market, now placing it second in importance after Europe,” a company spokesperson said.

On the other side of the globe, Max Mara has relocated to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles just in time for holiday shopping.

The 4,000-square-foot store, complete with a VIP room, replaces a smaller unit two blocks away. The most striking detail is a glass and real platinum waterfall that tumbles down from the ceiling of the second level to the ground floor, becoming more intricate as it nears the bottom.

The falling-water effect is obtained when light beams hit the vertical structure where the platinum bars are interspersed with white and black painted glass that resemble splashing water.

The interiors are a joint effort between Duccio Architetti Associati and Max Mara’s retail design team. All the fixtures — textured glass, oak woodwork and glass-covered lacquered panels — were shipped from Italy, where they were handcrafted.

“We’re delighted to open on Rodeo Drive in time for the holiday season. While these are unusual times for the economy, the occasion of shopping is energized by the season, and there is an excitement that is inherent in being present there,” said Luigi Caroggio, chairman of Max Mara USA.

All the companies declined to release sales projections.