Ralph Lauren's Grand Entrance in Connecticut

Designer opens 19,000 square foot store on Greenwich Avenue

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GREENWICH, Conn. — After an absence of more than a decade, Ralph Lauren is returning to Greenwich — and making quite an entrance.

Today, Lauren is opening a nearly 19,000-square-foot store on Greenwich Avenue with all the ingredients increasingly emblematic of the designer’s retail network. The store is housed inside a newly built structure with an imposing Beaux-Arts limestone facade, large arched windows and balconies; the residential-like interior has several smaller rooms and a grand staircase, and there is a noticeable spotlight on women’s apparel and accessories.

While the company declined to disclose the cost of the store, or sales projections, no expense appears to have been spared, even in this economy. From marble to moldings, lacquer and custom wallpaper, Lauren, who has a home in nearby Bedford, N.Y., was keen to bring his brand of luxury to the area. “The Greenwich community embodies a high level of sophistication, and this new store is a glamorous setting to showcase the breadth of our collections,” the designer said.

For the company, the store, at 265 Greenwich Avenue, represents another step in an ongoing retail evolution that led from Tokyo’s Omotesando in 2006 to Moscow in 2007, last fall’s openings on Avenue Montaigne in Paris and Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles, and in the Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates last spring.

It will continue with stores in Gstaad, Switzerland, next month, St. Germain in Paris next spring, and the Beaux-Arts structure that is being erected across from the Rhinelander mansion on Madison Avenue to focus exclusively on women’s and home categories, with an opening slated for next fall.

“[The Greenwich store] represents our progression in a couple of different spheres,” Charles Fagan, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.’s executive vice president of global retail brand development, explained during an exclusive walk-through of the space on Wednesday. “It dovetails what Ralph and Roger [Farah, Polo’s president and chief operating officer] have been talking about a lot in the last several years, which is our strategic mission of being direct-to-consumer, our focus on accessories, and the focus on international.

“It also represents a balancing of men’s and women’s,” he added. “This continues to balance the retail portfolio with more of an emphasis on women’s and accessories.”

The Greenwich store’s layout is reflective of this, with 6,000 square feet of selling space devoted to women’s, 1,500 to men’s, and 2,500 to the home category.

“Ralph has been feeling the scale of the opportunity in women’s in general but particularly in this community,” Fagan said. “This is, quite possibly, in terms of nonurban markets around the globe, one of the most discerning, fashion savvy, affluent, fashion-perceptive consumers.”

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