SLEEK RODEO DIGS FOR BOTTEGA VENETA

Byline: Kristin Young

BEVERLY HILLS — Bottega Veneta, the once-dowdy, 20-year-old boutique here on Rodeo Drive, is now a paragon of cool.
After a month-long redo, the 2,550-square-foot door at 457 North Rodeo Drive opened to the public on March 16 flush with more sunlight from a widened glass facade, richer in color from plush deep taupe carpeting and walls, and more visually arresting thanks to African Iroko wood shelves and brushed steel and glass display cases.
Responsible for the new look is BV’s creative director Tomas Maier. The old boutique was gutted, and the Nineties melange of slate floors and sycamore shelves done away with. Beverly Hills is the third door in the U.S. to undergo a redesign after units in New York and Palm Beach, Fla.
All stores worldwide, including 14 new locations slated to open this year, will be converted by the end of the year. BV has 29 stores worldwide, including six in the U.S. Boutique facelifts are just one of many changes on tap at the Italian accessories maker since Gucci Group creative director Tom Ford tapped Maier, a former Hermes designer, last June. Gucci acquired the Vicenza, Italy-based BV in February 2001.
Patrizio di Marco, president of BV worldwide, did not disclose financial expectations for the store.
Maier has impacted the product as well. The idea was that BV would return to its heritage and reputation for “intrecciato,” or traditional basket woven, leather handbags and accessories.
Nowhere in sight are BV logos or hardware. A redesigned logo, strictly for packaging, signs and labels inside apparel or bags, has been “refined and retouched to reflect the simple modernity and luxurious quality of the house,” noted Maier. The new logo will be unveiled in June. The first glimpse of a new ad campaign will come in August.
Hot sellers include an oversized round circle bag with black fringe, retail priced at $1,530; “Foulard” clutches and shoulder bags in woven black, brown and camel leather and straw, between $420 and $460; and Veneta, its most popular bag, a medium-sized slouchy number with one wide woven strap in black, brown, camel and white leather, $980.
Yet, here in Southern California, placed front and center is an entire group of “Rosa” or cotton-candy pink handbags, an effort to satiate Angelenos’ appetite for color. Only a few of these pieces are shown in New York.
As for shoes, bestsellers include a flat chocolate woven leather sandal with a wrap-around ankle strap at $320, and a black wedge sandal with a wrap-around ankle strap at $390.
Maier will introduce “some” clothing for fall. But, he said, this is not a ready-to-wear collection. Instead, it is clothing “that’s treated as accessories.”
Promised are dramatic pieces like woven leather jackets, denim-like gabardine silk pants and python pants. Prices will range from $1,200 for a cashmere tank top to $80,000 for a Russian sable coat.
At a time when VIP dressing rooms are more common on the drive than Rolls Royces, Maier decided to forgo such a space here.
“We firmly believe that all of our customers deserve VIP treatment and differentiating between actors, entertainers and other clients would be sending a mixed message,” said Maier, noting that if a case can be made for privacy, BV would oblige. The store will service celebrities for red-carpet events.
A party for members of the entertainment and fashion industries has been slated for April 25.

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