Ippolita, the luxury jewelry collection designed by creative director Ippolita Rostagno, has been available to shoppers in only the finest U.S. stores – Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and the like.
Now the company has opened its first flagship store, on Madison Avenue and 67th Street, in New York. To create a store that would meet the rigid test of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the jewelry company turned to Jeffrey Hutchison, a retail designer whose credentials are all over that neighborhood. Hutchison’s name is most closely associated with Barneys New York stores around the world, but he has also created concept shops for Ippolita for its most important retail partners.
Hutchison’s concept for the 500-square-foot store on Madison Avenue was to balance the decidedly modern space with artisanal elements, which include a combination of warm tones and jewel-inspired pops of color, says a spokesperson for the design firm: “We played off the nature of the merchandise, which is at the intersection of sculptural designs and elements found in nature.”
Those pieces throughout the store include carved dark-bronze tubing, hammered light-bronze accents and hand-smoothed plaster walls. On the floor, cerused wide-plank oak is laid in a herringbone pattern with travertine stone inlays. A steel-blue rug punctuates the space’s overall neutral palette.
This being the sidewalks of New York, where store windows are an important part of the marketing package, custom-designed installations are composed of hand-carved bronze and travertine.
The store is reportedly the first of 12 that the 13-year-old fine jewelry brand intends to open in the U.S. in the next three years. And the first several – already planned for Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta – will be larger.
And why not? Ippolita’s business is good. Ceo Joe Cavalcante told Women’s Wear Daily earlier this year that sales have increased “fivefold” in four years. He projected a 30 percent increase in overall business for 2012 and the same growth trajectory
Cavalcante attributes the success to “luck.” But the luck has been in choosing the right elements for its popular merchandise in the first place. The company introduced its silver pieces in 2008, so it was well-positioned when the recession caused gold prices to become volatile.
“All of our competitors scrambled to put out silver lines,” he told WWD. “We were ahead of the market in getting a better-priced product out there. Our silver business helped us get out of the recession.”
Now, with an improving economy, Ippolita has added diamonds and semi-precious stones to its designs, going after what Cavalcante calls the “true luxury consumer.”
That means growing not only in the U.S. but abroad, as well. Starting in the U.K. and expanding into Latin America, South America, the Middle East and Russia, these markets will soon have an Ippolita jewel box to call their own.