MILAN — Vionnet is introducing its retail concept with the opening of its first signature boutique in the world today. Under a franchising agreement with luxury developer Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, the store is located in Kuwait City in the new high-end shopping destination 360° Mall, which also includes restaurants, lounges and areas dedicated to art and entertainment.
This story first appeared in the February 14, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 756-square-foot boutique was designed by the brand’s creative director Rodolfo Paglialunga and opened after only 18 months from Vionnet’s relaunch and first collection, noted co-owner and chairman Matteo Marzotto.
“The location and the positioning are right, and this is a very dynamic part of the world,” said Marzotto. “Kuwait stands as a bridge for the flux of people transiting from India to Europe but is also brimming with local shoppers. There’s a lot of potential.” Marzotto, the former chairman of Valentino SpA and heir to the Marzotto textile family, described Al-Sabah as a “strong developer in that area,” and that his relationship with him was a long-standing one. Al-Sabah, who is currently vice president and member of the board of the 360° Mall, exited as chairman of Kuwait retailer Villa Moda last year after clashing with its majority shareholder.
Marzotto also said he “worked well” with Paglialunga and described their relationship as “relaxed.” Of the store’s interiors, Marzotto said it was defined by clean lines and contrasts between materials and colors, such as black mirrors and steel against soft carpeting and a sofa in a powdery color or champagne silk chairs with black profiles. A steel, satin-finish moiré light box used to project light throughout the store is positioned at the back. A flower pattern on the wall harks back to an archival 1928 photo of Joan Crawford wearing a long white Vionnet dress, while a retro chandelier also hints at the history of the house. The mirrors in the changing rooms are reproductions of those in Madeleine Vionnet’s Parisian atelier and are shaped like three-way hinged dressing mirrors.
“It was natural for us to include this unique, evocative brand in our portfolio,” said Al-Sabah. “The 360° Mall is defined by values of luxury, pleasure and comfort in a context of modern shopping experience; this is why it is built like a hotel lobby, both welcoming and attractive.”
The Vionnet brand is currently available at 140 doors around the world, and Marzotto said that, together with co-owner Gianni Castiglioni, chief executive officer of Marni, he is mapping out “a strategy of retail development, with the opening of between five and 10 stores, depending on the opportunity.”
In its first fiscal year, which closed at the end of December, Vionnet’s sales reached 5.5 million euros, or $7.2 million at average exchange rate.