La Rinascente

Italian department store. It was opened in Milan next to the Cathedral by Senator Borletti on 7 December 1918. Its opening was a sign of trust in the future of a country that had just come out of a long war, economically shattered, but on the winning side. It was opened on the site of the former drugstore Aux Villes d’Italie, started by Ferdinando Bocconi in 1865. Gabriele d’Annunzio, of whom Borletti was a patron, named the store La Rinascente. On Christmas Eve, just 18 days after it was opened, a fire caught light in the department store. It reopened almost immediately, keeping faith with the its purpose to “bring fashion to everyone.” Even in those early years, La Rinascente represented modernity. In a documentary made by the Italian TV about the 1930s, of which the department store was taken as a symbol, Gaetano Afeltra, from the Corriere della Sera, said that in Amalfi, his hometown along the Salerno coast, people anxiously waited for the monthly catalogue of the Milanese store and would leaf through it as if it opened a window on fashion and the world. Until the 1950s-60s, when clothing shops were rare and not yet of high level, and the big chains offered medium-low quality products, the store was extremely popular during the Christmas period with the female public. La Rinascente was rebuilt from the ruins of World War II. It represented fashion, and was the stage for the Italian postwar boom. A forerunner of clothing stores offering prêt-à-porter, in 1963 it created a scandal by offering a corner to the clothes of Pierre Cardin: for the first time fashion designed by a great couturier was presented at affordable prices. Cardin was followed by other designers, for example, Lanvin with collections dedicated to men. A priority of the company was to offer customers a complete service of clothes and accessories, making use of internal and external consultants (among others, Biki’s designer Louis de Hidalgo, Alma Filippini, owner of the griffe Alma, Adriana Botti, and a very young Giorgio Armani), and the store has always maintained its reputation for offering fashionable items just as trends come through. It has mounted large events, such as the market-exhibition about Mexico, and Silk+Silk in Winter 1985-86, in which fashion was combined with culture, tradition, and distant ethnic groups. In the city of the Trienniale, it was also a test-bed for graphics, furniture, and interior décor, and invited important names in industrial design and architecture to collaborate with it, such as Gio Ponti, Bruno Munari, Max Huber, Tomàs Maldonado, Roberto Sambonet, and Albe Steiner. La Rinascente has constantly increased the number of its sales outlets, created stores of a lower level (Upim, since 1928), invented a chain of food markets (Sma, 1961) and supermarkets (Città Mercato, 1972), Do-it-Yourself stores (Bricocenter, 1983) and conducted a policy of acquisitions. But, though gaining from 70.5% of the group’s total turnover from food sales, it continues to be the stage of the great names of ready haute couture, from Valentino to Zegna, from Ralph Lauren to Versace and Dolce & Gabbana.
&Quad;2000. The group, quoted on the Milan Stock Exchange and controlled by Eurofind (which holds 53% of the share capital) closed the year with a turnover of more than 6,000 million dollars.
&Quad;2001. The year closed with a consolidated turnover of €5,749.7 million (+3.7% compared to 2000) and a consolidated net result of €59.1 million (+6%).
&Quad;2002, May. The Group focused its resources on the relaunch of the Upim division, which specializes in clothing and household accessories. €150 million were allocated over the next four years to reorganize the distribution network, to restyle old stores, and to open new ones. The chain counts 150 stores directly managed, plus 220 branch stores. Upim’s turnover for 2001 totalled €538 million.
&Quad;2002. Turnover increased again, reaching €6,145.6 million, while the net consolidated result decreased (€50.8 million) because of tax pressure. The net financial position, however, improved €+18.5 millions, against debts of 77 millions in 2001. (Dario Golizia)