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NEW YORK — Consuelo Castiglioni doesn’t like the obvious.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Her new Marni store is no exception. Rather than open a boutique on Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue, Castiglioni opted for a 2,500-square-foot, two-level space on the quiet, tree-lined East 67th Street, at No. 21. “Most of my stores are in a location that is somewhat discreet with a hidden element,” she said. “I like for our customer to have the sensation of discovering the boutique.”

There’s plenty to discover inside the store. Architecture firm Sybarite cut a hole in the ceiling at the front to create a double-height entrance. Fiberglass mannequins dangle from the second-floor ceiling, visible to shoppers on the floor below. At the back of the store, in the shoe area, a giant abstract stainless steel tree grows through to the second hole via another hole in the ceiling. Walls were purposely left unpainted near the top and bottom for an unfinished look, with intentionally visible roller marks creating striations on the Sheetrock. White angular plastic screens of different heights and shapes cover areas of the walls.

The unit is Marni’s second in Manhattan. A store on Mercer Street in SoHo bowed in 2002 and was expanded in October when the brand took over the space next door, doubling in size. Marni, which had sales of $174 million in 2008, is expected to open a store at CityCenter in Las Vegas by year’s end. Freestanding accessories stores “are in the planning stages.”

Castiglioni said she decided to open a second boutique here “to better service our customers living uptown.”

While there is a thematic thread that runs through all Marni boutiques, the new store will have a different choice of merchandise than the SoHo unit. “They will complement one another,” Castiglioni said. “A special capsule collection will be presented only in the uptown store. It will include dresses, jewelry and shoes.”

The store is long and narrow, with every bit of space pressed into service. An undulating rack beneath the staircase displays ready-to-wear and feels like a dark alcove. Handbags are housed in beige velvet display boxes suspended by metal wire that look like overhead luggage bins on airplanes.

On the second floor, another longer undulating metal rod shaped like a wave holds men’s and women’s rtw with a mirror dividing the two collections. The stainless steel branches from the ground level burst forth, encircled by an oval rail holding more rtw. Outside the fitting rooms, built in leather-lined display cases hold lingerie.

For spring, dots were a theme with cotton and silk macramé circles used to accent skirts or for dresses ($1,440). A shirred chiffon top is $5,400, a teardrop sequin skirt, $3,330. The white dots also appeared on jacquard coats and shoes with thick platforms. The Summer Edition 2009 capsule collection is priced 30 percent lower than the core Marni line and includes cotton blouses for $470 and jackets, $865.

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