Bulgari Gets a Tony New Address

Twenty years after it opened its first store in Milan, Bulgari is relocating to a bigger and better space on the tony Via Montenapoleone.

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MILAN — Twenty years after it opened its first store in Milan, Bulgari is relocating to a bigger and better space on the tony Via Montenapoleone.

The 3,240-square-foot store, which opened Thursday, is in the same stretch as Louis Vuitton’s unit and carries Bulgari’s jewelry and watch collections as well as a small selection of its leather goods, fragrances and silk accessories.

The store is double the size of Bulgari’s previous shop on Via della Spiga, which the Roman jeweler is remodeling and dedicating to its expanding accessories collection. It is slated to reopen in September.

“We feel that between these two stores and the Bulgari Hotel, our positioning in Milan is very high profile,” said Francesco Trapani, the luxury goods company’s chief executive officer. “Bulgari’s style is dynamic and contemporary, so we wanted a warm and welcoming atmosphere that wasn’t too cold.”

Trapani declined to disclose sales projections for the store.

The interior reflects Bulgari’s new blueprint, which is lighter and fresher and already visible in the firm’s London, Florence and Paris flagships. A remodeled New York store will reopen early next year.

The decor includes maple and pearwood, ivory-colored walls, and paint with an encaustic technique whereby liquid wax is melted in the impasto.

In the middle of the store is a 648-square-foot VIP lounge topped by a frosted glass ceiling.

Guests attending the opening cocktail got a chance to admire some of Bulgari’s vintage pieces, only on display for the event, such as an antique silver casket that belonged to founder Sotirio Bulgari; a necklace and earrings set in diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies, designed for the Shah of Persia in 1967 and worn by Keira Knightley at the Oscars, and a platinum and diamond double-strand necklace from the Thirties, which was worn to the Oscars by Gwyneth Paltrow.

While such pieces are strictly a red-carpet privilege, the ultrarich can indulge in Bulgari styles like a 28-carat cushion cut ruby ring for $6.6 million or a cabochon sapphire pendant that costs $2.5 million.

Trapani said in the past few years, Bulgari has made headway in broadening its historical collection, which will become part of a traveling museum.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As for accessories, Trapani confirmed he is uninterested in a marquee designer name and said the bags are especially successful in Asia, while Europe remains in test mode. The accessories are produced in a Tuscan factory acquired by the jeweler last year.

“Bulgari is a very strong name in the luxury goods market and we believe we can compete with Hermès and Chanel in terms of quality and price points,” said Trapani.

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