DOLCE & GABBANA GO HOLLYWOOD

Byline: Kristin Young

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have consummated their Hollywood love affair, with the scheduled opening today of their West Coast flagship here.
The 4,700-square-foot store, located at 312 N. Rodeo Drive, is the third U.S. door for Dolce & Gabbana. The other two stores are in New York City at 825 Madison Avenue and Bal Harbor, Fla.
“It’s always been our dream to come to Hollywood,” said Dolce, speaking through an interpreter from the island of Stromboli, off the coast of Sicily. The Milanese designers share a vacation home there. “The new store takes such a special place in our hearts because it was the Hollywood crowd who helped us get on the map.”
Several Hollywood celebrities, including Madonna, Tom Cruise and Isabella Rossellini, have been drawn to Dolce & Gabbana’s glamorous and sexually charged aesthetic for more than a decade. “To see a Hollywood celebrity in Dolce & Gabbana, that’s the epitome of achievement,” said Dolce. Hollywood has, in turn, been an inspiration for the designers, he added.
The Beverly Hills store was long in coming. It took five years to find the right location and complete the construction, according to Justo Artigas, the company’s vice president of public relations. Dolce & Gabbana has two levels and is directly across from Celine, a few doors north of Van Cleef & Arpels.
By chance not by choice, said Artigas, the boutique bowed after the recent openings of two boutiques for the D&G secondary line in West Hollywood. The Beverly Center boutique opened three months ago and the Sunset Plaza location opened in late 1998.
The Beverly Hills flagship is inspired by the designers’ southern Italian heritage, with ample light, plants in Sicilian urns, and charcoal-colored volcanic rock shipped from a quarry south of Rome.
“Our dream is that you get the Dolce & Gabbana feeling, that warm Mediterranean sensuality from the outside,” said Dolce.
The designers retained British architect David Chipperfield to create the effect with a 25-foot facade of glass for a good view of the interior from the street. The textured volcanic sheets of basalt run throughout the unit as flooring and stepped-height benches to display accessories. Muted lighting fixtures lend an aura of skylights.
For contrast, there are late 18th-century gilded mirrors and baroque chairs covered in bright fuchsia, gold and green textiles from recent collections, burgundy velvet padded panels and drapes in the dressing rooms, and zebra-skin rugs on the floors.
The boutique houses the complete collections from Dolce & Gabbana, including the White and Black labels for both women and men. The women’s collections are housed on the second floor; men’s wear is on one. The Black label is generally shown on the runway, and its distribution is more selective than the more commercial White label line.
Price points for the women’s White and Black labels range from $350 to $70,000; women’s shoes are priced $300 to $1,500; intimate apparel and swimwear, $100 to $350; and eyewear, $195 to $320. Men’s White and Black labels retail between $350 and $2,500; men’s shoes, $250 to $500; and ties are priced at $120.
To maintain the Hollywood tie-in, the store runs a studio service department to wardrobe film studios, TV shows, award shows and premieres. And there is a private VIP fitting room with an escape route to the back alley, if needed.
Artigas said the store’s annual sales are projected to reach $6.5 million by April 1, the end of the company’s 2001 fiscal year; $9.8 million for the fiscal year 2002; and $10.7 million by the end of the fiscal year 2003. Dolce & Gabbana posted $340 million in companywide annual sales for fiscal year 2000, ending March 31.
The White and Black labels for both men and women account for 26 percent of yearly sales; fragrance is the runner-up with 25 percent of the business; eyewear accounts for 14 percent; accessories, handbags and shoes, 5 percent; and intimate apparel and swimwear, 5 percent. The secondary line D&G comprises 25 percent of sales.
Artigas said there have been no special arrangements made with other nearby retailers that carry Dolce & Gabbana, such as Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. He said the possible competition is not a concern. “We had some concern [with the store] on Madison Avenue in New York but it didn’t take away from the other businesses.”
The company is considering putting up billboards on Sunset Boulevard to advertise the boutique. About 8 percent of the company’s annual sales are allocated for advertising, which is mostly print advertising.
The designers said they plan to visit Los Angeles this year to officially introduce the store. Until then, two invitation-only parties are planned later this month, one for stylists, agents and publicists, and another for Hollywood studio executives.

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