NEW YORK — La Perla USA, the U.S. unit of Italian intimate apparel and ready-to-wear giant Gruppo La Perla, will be opening a third signature shop in Manhattan at 425 West 14th Street in March.

This story first appeared in the November 13, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Gianluca Flore, president and chief executive officer of La Perla USA, said, “The new shop will be located in the Meatpacking District, between the Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen boutiques. It is a very special area that’s young and different. It’s not big now, but it’s becoming an important location to be.”

The 2,000-square-foot boutique, which has been budgeted at around $500,000, will be designed by Perma Steelisa, an Italian architectural firm with offices in Enfield, Conn.

Flore said the new La Perla boutique will have an entirely different format and will be a retail “laboratory” for La Perla as the firm approaches its 50th anniversary in 2004.

“We want to discover what the next generation likes and wants to buy in the next 50 years,” Flore said. “It will be a store with a fun atmosphere where a customer can easily stroll through and shop. We’ll probably roll out other units in Europe.”

The new unit will feature updated, novelty lingerie by La Perla Black Label, as well as La Perla rtw that is “cutting edge,” he said. The target customer will be in the 25- to 35-year-old age range.

In July, La Perla will make a major move and relocate both its offices and showrooms at 530 Fifth Avenue and its Manhattan La Perla flagship at 777 Madison Avenue to 803 Madison Avenue. The new location, a five-story building, was formerly the Moschino building.

Flore said the interior of the new headquarters will be “totally redone” by Milan-based architect Gabriele Buratti in the signature La Perla look — contemporary black lacquer and silver chrome display units and blond-wood floors. The first two levels will take up 3,000 square feet of retail space, while the remaining three floors will be the firm’s administrative offices for North America. The company’s 50th anniversary festivities will take place at the new headquarters in New York, as well as Italy, he said. The firm is based in Bologna, Italy.

The second La Perla unit here at 93 Greene Street, opened in November 2002, has reached its first-year sales projection of $1.5 million, said Flore. The company maintains 63 freestanding boutiques worldwide, and has shops in Boston, Chicago, Miami, Beverly Hills and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. The company plans to open four additional boutiques in the U.S. from 2005 to 2006, in Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas and San Francisco, he said.

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