MILAN — If a slew of red-carpet ladies like Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman and Jennifer Lopez already slip into your shoes, why not open a boutique in Los Angeles?

This story first appeared in the June 10, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Sergio Rossi, the Italian footwear company owned by Gucci Group, is doing exactly that on July 27 when it opens its unit at 366 North Rodeo Drive.

The 1,622-square-foot store — Sergio Rossi’s first in Los Angeles — was designed to meet Tinseltown’s needs: It houses the company’s first-ever VIP area to serve celebrities and private clients with customized items. While Sergio Rossi already offers a service that allows select clients to choose a style from the current collection and order it in a different hide, color or heel height, the Rodeo Drive unit will be the firm’s first to feature a dedicated area.

Los Angeles is only a tassel in Sergio Rossi’s bigger retail expansion plan for the year, which kicked off last April with a new flagship on London’s Old Bond Street.

“We always knew Sergio Rossi had wonderful products, and we had to strengthen its presence around the world,” said Domenico De Sole, chairman and chief executive officer of Gucci Group. “We’ll have 35 directly operated stores by the end of the year, up from 14 just a couple of years ago.”

A new boutique will open in Honolulu July 20, and two weeks later, the New York boutique on 833 Madison Avenue will close its doors and reopen five blocks down in an 1,804-square-foot unit on the corner of Madison Avenue and 66th Street.

The key elements found in all the stores are brown suede armchairs, wool taupe carpeting and large, bronze-frame mirrors. Handbags are increasingly taking up space in the stores, and each season, about six new themes are turned out with about 40 styles. Among the bestsellers is a soft tote with top stitching and bone handle, priced at $1,080.

Down in Rimini, the seaside resort in central Italy, where the company is headquartered, it’s work-in-progress time for the new, 172,000-square-foot plant that will be completed by mid-2003. It will also produce the Yves Saint Laurent footwear line.”

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