Salvatore Ferragamo: Bigger Space, Bigger Ideas

Heather O'Brien visits the Italian luxury goods brand's new-and-improved Prague store

In a nod from Salvatore Ferragamo brand to the up-and-coming Czech market, the Florence, Italy-based brand opened a new and much-improved store on Pařížská avenue. The Czech Republic is seen as one of the next big untapped markets where luxury brands can thrive, partly because of the tourists who frequent Prague and partly because of the growing number of upwardly mobile locals with disposable income. No expense has been spared making sure that the 170-square-meter space is up to Salvatore Ferragamo standards. Gone are the days when companies from abroad waltzed into Prague and put together less-than-impressive spaces. The two-level Ferragamo store, complete with wood paneling, an open staircase and shag carpet, is reminiscent of 1960s Los Angeles. And while wood paneling is not my favorite decorative accent, it did give the store a more "homey" and warm feeling than some of its upscale counterparts.

Celebrities abounded at the store's recent opening, drinking Champagne, snuggling up to their favorite photographer, and previewing the Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Of course, while we were all there to celebrate the new store opening, the fine people at Salvatore Ferragamo also brought with them a priceless collection of shoes worn by superstars including Brigitte Bardot, who owned a swanky pair of suede mint-colored ankle boots; Madonna (from the movie Evita); Angelina Jolie; and Drew Barrymore (from Ever After: A Cinderella Story).

So what can one expect from Spring/Summer 2012 in the Salvatore Ferragamo collection? Pastels, mainly focusing on colors like Champagne, mint, and peony, in either flowing silks or more structured cottons -- an ode to a safari expedition, complete with shirt dress and silk. Of course, the collection that will draw your eye in the fastest is also the one with the loudest colors -- teal, turquoise, cobalt, magenta, peony, apricot and clementine. The perennial summer that the Ferragamo collection evokes is one of jungle plants, tanned beauties, endless sunbathing in exotic ports-of-call, in patterns that crisscross around the body in either halter, strapless or one-shouldered dresses. There are, in fact, very few "trousers" or "suit sets" in the collection -- but then again, when would you need to wear a suit to the beach when you have what appears to be silk scarves draped carefully over your body?

Totes, top handles, Hobo bags, shoulder bags and clutches were made of either calfskin or Egyptian buffalo. The handbags were centered around the traditional black, cream and tan, with pop colors like peony, clementine, and apricot used as easy transitions from winter to spring bags. The range of shoes focuses on espadrilles or shoes made of suede or leather, most with the grosgrain ribbon bow at the toe, which has become a hallmark of the Ferragamo shoe.

The store is manageable, with only three main rooms on the street level plus a men's section downstairs. The staff seemed knowledgeable and willing to serve. The dressing rooms were spacious, air-conditioned and offered good light. (For those of us who are not perfect specimens of the human anatomy, our "less favorable" areas are safe from bad lighting.)  It's nice to see that the rest of the world is finally waking up to the fact that Czechs, as well as the people that live here, deserve something more.

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