Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — Furthering its burgeoning retail strategy, high-end shoemaker Vicini opened its first Italian store here on fashionable Via della Spiga last month.
The company, based in San Mauro Pascoli in the heart of Italy’s footwear-producing region in the northeastern part of the country, also unveiled plans to open a store on Cyprus in August. These latest developments come on the heels of the first freestanding Vicini store, which was opened in Saint Petersburg last October.
“We had been waiting for the right location for the past two years,” designer Giuseppe Zanotti said of the Milan location. “We wanted the store to be in the international fashion triangle of the city.”
The one-level shop has a Thirties look and atmosphere, with briarwood shelves, cream leather seats and stools, and an Art Deco briarwood cylindrical structure that camouflages the cash-and-wrap area. Vicini’s shoe boxes, in a delicate wisteria color, are an elemental part of the atmosphere, since they are in full view on shelves around the store.
“The space was originally from the Twenties or Thirties, and we thought it would be nice to recreate the same atmosphere,” Zanotti said.
Dainty ostrich slingbacks, python-skin slip-ons, golden lame boots and silver-chain sandals are displayed on brass-rimmed shelves lined with hemp cloth.
“There are so many austere and minimal stores today,” said Zanotti. “We wanted ours to be warmed up by natural colors such as sand and leather, cream and beige.”
Brass and briarwood are the recurring materials that tie all the design elements together, but in a nod to fashion’s changing whims, the carpeting and the covering of the shelves will be changed every month. Last month, lilac was the featured shade.
In the U.S., which accounts for 40 percent of sales, Vicini is available at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Wholesale prices range from $129 to $189.
In 1999, Vicini registered sales of about $14 million, a 38 percent increase from the previous year. Zanotti said the company expected a similar increase this year, with volume reaching $19 million.
Vicini SpA, founded 15 years ago, also produces the Roberto Cavalli footwear line. The company previously produced for designers Valentino and Alberta Ferretti.