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PARIS — Olivier Theyskens has unveiled a “fresh” and bright retail universe for Nina Ricci in a dove gray, apartmentlike boutique on the Avenue Montaigne.

This story first appeared in the August 29, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Already, the overhaul — plus some eye-catching mint dégradé dresses displayed in the enlarged windows — has contributed to daily sales tallies roughly triple those of a year ago, the designer said during an exclusive walk-through on Thursday.

“I wanted to have a houselike feeling,” said Theyskens as he led a tour of the 1,950-square-foot flagship, which reopened earlier this week after a six-month renovation. “We’re very happy. Right now we feel very confident.”

Theyskens described the decor change as dramatic — and far beyond skin deep.

A dominant central staircase was removed, and the proportions of all the rooms were revisited to reflect its Parisian environs.

“The only thing that remained were four cement columns that hold up the building,” he said, dressed in a rust sweater, off-white jeans and sneakers. “For me, it was important to make something with intimacy. It’s not a megastore. It’s more of a jewel of a store on the Avenue Montaigne.”

Shoppers enter the L-shaped boutique at the corner: There is a large room showcasing leather goods to the left and a series of rooms for ready-to-wear to the right, culminating in a large salon, which can be “privatized,” as Theyskens phrased it, unfurling hidden white shutters in the large window frames.

Merchandise is sparsely displayed, with shoes, boots and gloves clumped on wide shelves, sweaters folded and tucked into niches and delicate lingerie sets displayed under a glass-topped chest of drawers. Both pre-fall and runway rtw is displayed.

Theyskens, who has brought his ethereal and romantic vision to Ricci’s runway since joining the house in 2006, took a modern, simplified approach to the brand’s retail codes, with floors of gray French marble, walls in a silvery floral silk jacquard and clothing racks and moldings in a golden braid inspired by the cord that entwines the cap of the French house’s enduring L’Air du Temps fragrance. The new boutique concept, with mirrors and smoked glass as accents, replaces an interim all-gray, minimalist decor.

Theyskens said the store is large and flexible enough to add more products, including a complete leather goods collection planned for an early 2009 introduction. But it also stocks special rtw pieces “that are produced on a very small scale,” Theyskens said. “We have many women who come here who want very special things.”

The store’s exterior also got a facelift, with sleek glass signs inserted in half-round transoms, which had previously been lidded with awnings.

Best-selling styles on the opening days included a pink slip dress with a lattice of silver embroidery at 2,450 euros, or $3,599 at current exchange, and dégradé alpaca dresses and coats at 1,450 and 2,190 euros, or $2,130 and $3,217, respectively.

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