MILAN — As one concept store is ceasing operations — Colette in Paris — another is working to secure its future.
The building housing conceptual store 10 Corso Como has been sold to former Twin Set owners and founders Simona Barbieri and Tiziano Sgarbi.
Responding to speculation that Carla Sozzani’s brainchild would be transformed by the new owners of the building, Donato Maino, chief executive officer of Dieci Srl, told WWD: “Conversations regarding the rental contract are taking place as part of a normal real estate transaction. Nothing will change now nor in the future referring to all that concerns the integrity in Milan of the 10 Corso Como concept.” The store of 10 Corso Como in Milan is a license of the brand 10 Corso Como given to the company Dieci srl, Maino explained.
Barbieri in April left her role as creative director and director of Twin Set, selling the remaining 10 percent stake in her namesake company to The Carlyle Group, which now has 100 percent control of the Italian fashion brand. Twin Set is helmed by former Moschino ceo Alessandro Varisco. The Carlyle Group acquired 70 percent of Twin Set in 2012, upping its stake to 90 percent in 2015.
Sozzani’s store is located in and identified with the street of the same name and has contributed to the development of its neighborhood for more than 25 years.
As reported in May, the building had been for sale for a while. At that time, a spokeswoman said: “This would be the fifth time the building goes through a change in ownership. Every time, the rent contract has been renegotiated and confirmed. We don’t see why it should be any different now.”
Last year, founder Carla Sozzani marked the 25th anniversary of 10 Corso Como, which, in addition to the store, includes a restaurant and café. There is a gallery — an exhibition space that last month saw Pierre Cardin showing his storied furniture during the international Salone del Mobile — and a bookshop, where a book signing was recently held for “Margiela the Hermès Years,” for example. The boutique carries designs by the likes of Azzedine Alaïa and Junya Watanabe, as well as objects from Alessi. In 2003, Sozzani opened a small hotel with three rooms, aptly called 3 Rooms.
According to the balance sheet that refers to Dieci, which in Italian means “10,” last year the company operated at a loss of 293,377 euros and was weighed down by a debt of more than 13 million euros. “A negotiation is going on these days to grow the business of Dieci srl,” said Maino, responding to a request for a comment.
Maino clarified that “the Gallery, the bookshop and the restaurant are not part of Dieci srl.” Even in 2011, Sozzani acknowledged to WWD the challenges of the economy, and said “it’s always been difficult.”
Sozzani was a pioneer in creating her concept store, which is a tourist attraction in itself. The venue reflects her ebullient and cheerful disposition, and she often refers to it as a bazaar. Her office brims with books and photos by Man Ray and Helmut Newton, art by American artist Kris Ruhs, and furniture by Norman Cherner.
The sister of the late Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani, Carla started her career in publishing. After a long stint at Vogue Italia, she launched Italian Elle in 1987 before setting out in retailing.
Sozzani has also expanded the brand outside Italy. In 2002, together with Rei Kawakubo, she opened the 10 Corso Como-Comme des Garçons store in Tokyo. Six years later, she unveiled a three-story 10 Corso Como store in Seoul, in a partnership with Samsung Group. There are also units in Shanghai and Beijing.
Meanwhile, 10 Corso Como has inked an agreement with real estate group The Howard Hughes Corp. to open a store in the Seaport District of Manhattan, covering about 13,000 square feet and designed by Ruhs.