STORE BRIGHT, STORE LIGHT

Byline: Courtney Colavita / Luisa Zargani

MILAN — The city’s golden triangle may stay the same size, but that doesn’t stop new stores from cropping up every season. A number, too, have recently been renovated. Valentino, for example, flew in from Paris to inaugurate his redesigned boutique on Via Montenapoleone and turned the event into a fund-raiser for Italian families affected by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. “I, like the rest of the world, was shocked by what happened in America,” Valentino said. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I wanted to show my commitment to those affected by this and to say that things must still move forward.”
The 8,600-square-foot space, designed by Antonio Citterio and Partners, has a Provencal feeling, with its parquet floors and French windows, which contrast with the edge of the black throw rugs and sleek blocks of illuminated, opaque glass. The two-floor space carries women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories and has separate entrances for the women’s and men’s sections. It’s the first in a series of Valentino boutiques that will feature the new design concept. Other openings are scheduled in Singapore, Hawaii and Bal Harbour, Florida.
The new Prada Sport on Via San Andrea offers more than just a change from the oh-so-recognizable minty green. The 2,160-square-foot space is deep chestnut from wall to wall — Prada’s version of a post-modern ski lodge. The only deviation from the warm wood decor is the smooth white ceiling and royal blue curtains that cover the store’s four fitting rooms. Designed by Roberto Baciocchi, the store, the only Prada Sport boutique in the world, carries men’s wear, women’s wear and accessories.
Meanwhile, the German firm of Strenesse is ready to unveil its partly renovated Milan flagship on Via Manzoni. Strenesse in Progress, as it’s called, is only half finished, and that’s just the point. The construction site is both selling space and art venue, and is, like the Munich boutique, designed by interior designer Christian Liaigre. The floor is gray concrete, and clothes are either suspended from metal cables or displayed on unfinished pine cabinets. Photographs by Michael Wesely are on display. The store will remain in this half-finished state until February, when it will close once more for final renovations.
Braccialini, the Tuscan handbag firm known for its ethnic themes, colorful patterns and quirky materials, opened its first Milan store on Via Montenapoleone on Sept. 20. The store’s distinctive decor features undulating white surfaces to set off the vivid accessories. “We wanted something different, never seen before,” said chief executive officer Riccardo Braccialini.
Founded in 1954 by Carla Braccialini, the company was bought by the Mariella Burani Fashion Group last year and produces accessories for Vivienne Westwood, Mila Schon, Mariella Burani for Amuleti, and, starting next season, Toni Gard. “With Burani, we are working with a future ahead of us,” Braccialini added. The firm just opened a new boutique in Tokyo and, in addition to renovating its historical store in Florence, plans to open shops in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
Mila Schon, which is also under the Mariella Burani umbrella, will open its new store on Via Manzoni 45, which will replace the Via Montenapoleone shop, on Saturday. “We decided to move to Via Manzoni, because we think it’s a particularly interesting street, and even more so after the openings of the Giorgio Armani, Paul Smith and Strenesse stores,” said Fabrizio Malverdi, the company’s chief executive. “This store has a completely different atmosphere. It’s cozier and more welcoming and has three windows on the street, whereas the one in Via Montenapoleone was in a courtyard and was more somber.” In addition to the Milan boutique, there are two Schon stores in Florence and Rome, which Burani plans to renovate. Corners in the boutiques will be devoted to accessories, and Mila Schon will present a footwear collection for the first time for spring. The new two-story shop features marble columns, gray stone floors and a wide central staircase; Plexiglas and crystal contrast with opaque wenge wood.
Andrea Pfister’s feminine shoes stand out in his shop on Via Montenapoleone, which recently reopened after renovations. “This is a prototype for all our future stores,” the designer said. The company, which was bought by Fin.part earlier this year, will open a store on Rodeo Drive in December. Pfister described his Milan boutique, which first opened three years ago, as “a small living room, with a more modern touch.” Then he noted, “Now the products are more visible for those who walk by.” Fin.part also controls Cerruti, Maska, Frette, Henry Cottons, Marina Yachting, Moncler and Coast, Weber & Ahaus.
Not content with his lion’s share of the Via Manzoni, Giorgio Armani has opened an Armani Junior store on Via Montenapoleone and plans to unveil a Collezioni store in 2003. “Securing prime locations is fundamental to the success of our exclusive retail network around the world,” he said.

Around Town
If the perfect symmetry of the models on the runways gets to be a bore, a megadose of Picasso is just the remedy. At the Palazzo Reale, near Milan’s Duomo, a substantial retrospective of Pablo Picasso’s work is under way, featuring 200 of his works of art. “Picasso, 200 Capolavori,” which runs through Jan. 27, tracks the artist’s evolution as a painter and sculptor, with works dating between 1898 and 1972.
As part of its ongoing relationship with Irish Milliner Philip Treacy, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi will host an exhibition of his work. “Unlikely Sculpture,” which runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 21, not only features Treacy’s intricate hats and headpieces, but showcases the hat blocks used to produce them.

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