BY WAY OF FLORENCE: For its first U.S. pop-up store, LuisaViaRoma has linked up with Spring Studios and Spring Place for a downtown Manhattan location bowing Friday.
Chief executive officer Andrea Panconesi — whose grandparents Lido and Luisa founded the prized store — flew in from Italy for this week’s opening. An early advocate of e-commerce — the Florentine retailer launched its online store in 1999 — LuisaViaRoma is making digital a key part of the New York outpost. The highly curated selection won’t be limited to what shoppers see — 30 key items. An additional 30,000 items will be within reach via interactive digital screens. Stylists will also be at the ready to dole out advice. Their expertise will also be available for at-home styling and wardrobe consulting services.
“The U.S. has always been our biggest market from the very first day we started online,” Panconesi said. “The web site has been written in English from the beginning, in Italy it didn’t exist, no one knew what we were doing. Our first clients came from the U.S., then Germany and then the U.K. and finally came Italy.”
Italian and European brands will be well-represented thanks to items from Versace, Missoni, Marni, Attico, Moschino, Emilio Pucci, Alberta Ferretti and other labels. Consumers will have reason to return to the pop-up, since new and exclusive cobranded capsule collections will be dropped weekly. They can also indulge in professional makeup touch-ups, beauty products and other enhancing treatments. The interactive set-up will be open through Dec. 15.
The downtown hybrid space in Spring Studios rounds out the retailer’s “Home for the Holidays” installation in Florence. Italian designer and architect Cristina Celestino turned the store in Italy into what is supposed to be a full-fledged home with areas reminiscent of a dining room, living room, bedroom and kitchen. Aside from the 4,163-mile distance between New York and Florence, the U.S. rendition is a melange of textures, materials and colors.
“This pop-up inside Spring Studios represents what I want. Here you have the whole world: food, spaces to work and fashion. It’s not a matter of shopping or not shopping, it’s a matter of gathering together,” Paconesi commented. “The young generation was born with the telephone in their hand, but we have to be careful to not forget the face-to-face meeting. I want to create a place where young people can gather and speak their language; this is a different language today. The old generation doesn’t understand this. Today people don’t want to shop in a shopping mall, they want a new type of experience.”
Celestino said Wednesday that her intention was to have shoppers in New York “breathe in a tropical atmosphere with a European touch, brought into an urban context that makes it surreal. Shopping will become an unexpected experience.”
Using colors and materials “that you would not expect applied in extravagant ways,” there is a “powerful graphic design inspired by Gio Ponti, on the inlaid carpeting,” she said.
The tropical atmosphere associated with the late artist and architect César Manrique was another source of inspiration as evidenced by the choice of colors, the use of pop furnishings, “and of course the greenery as an important theme.” Celestino said.
Another influential source for the project’s color palette was “A Bigger Splash” by the British artist David Hockney, which depicts a splash from a diving board in a California swimming pool, she said.
Paconesi hinted that the New York pop-up would next venture west to Los Angeles, where Spring Studios recently opened at outpost in Beverly Hills, but no details were confirmed.
“I’m not interested in doing another full-fledged shop.” Pasconesi noted. “There are millions of shops, a pop is temporary and this is what we as a business should look to do going forward.”