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Bulgari Unveils a Major New Look at South Coast Plaza

The new store includes the first Bulgari Lounge in the U.S., and kicks off a growth phase in California that will culminate in the opening of a Bulgari Hotel in L.A.

Bulgari Unveils a Major New Look at South Coast Plaza

The exterior of the new Bulgari store at South Coast Plaza has curved tubes.

After eight months of construction, the curtain was raised Tuesday on one of the largest Bulgari stores in the U.S., kicking off a major growth phase for the luxury lifestyle brand in California.

At 5,300 square feet, the extensive corner location at South Coast Plaza is more than twice the size of the previous Bulgari jewelry and watch store next door at the shopping center that has become a mecca for luxury brands in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The exterior catches the eye with its innovative facade of clear, tubular structures inspired by Bulgari’s iconic tubogas craftsmanship, a gas-pipe technique first employed by Bulgari in its first Serpenti watch creations done in the 1940s and 1950s. It creates a flexible band with rounded contours created without soldering. The Italian luxury house now uses the technique to create necklaces, bracelets, rings and watches.

“This curved glass was invented for one of our stores in Hong Kong, which opened last year, and we got this technology here for our new store,” said Hervé Perrot, chief executive officer of Bulgari North America, who flew from New York for the Tuesday night private grand opening. The clear exterior tubes, he said, can display different light colors, “depending on the mood you want to get.”

Bulgari Unveils a Major New Look at South Coast Plaza

The central area of the store has a comfortable feel with curved couches.

The boutique’s opulent decor is filled with Italian marble columns, marble floors, rich chandeliers and travertine-encased display cases that highlight the diverse offerings of jewelry, watches, fragrances, bags and other accessories. The new space is the first in the world to offer the brand’s new fragrance experience, highlighting the Le Gemme and Allegra collections.

Also unique is a Bulgari Lounge to the left of the entranceway. The first in a U.S. location, it is a calm, quiet café where shoppers can feel at ease while eating light refreshments and enjoying an array of beverages. The comfortable lounge blends in well with the rest of the spacious and airy boutique, which has large, curved couches in the center for guests to relax amidst the store’s calming off-white and beige tones. “When you enter, you feel good about the space,” Perrot noted.

Bulgari Unveils a Major New Look at South Coast Plaza

The South Coast Plaza store has the first U.S. in-store lounge.

Moving toward the back, there are two secluded VIP lounges on either side where heavy doors can be closed for a private shopping session. There is also a newly conceived, dedicated salon for men’s and women’s watches. Being exclusively previewed at the store is a Serpenti Misteriosi watch in rose gold and black lacquer, set with mandarin garnets, as well as a number of Octo Finissimo World Record Sage watches.

Near the watch area is a separate salon for accessories and handbags, like a delicate Serpenti leather purse covered with 28,000 Swarovski crystals.

Bulgari Unveils a Major New Look at South Coast Plaza

Fine-crafted purses sit on a shelf in a dedicated area.

The new store has more high jewelry than the previous location. “The introduction of high jewelry at this location and a stunning new watch salon provide exceptional opportunities to discover the exquisite craftsmanship of the brand,” noted Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of the Bulgari Group.

To add a touch of local artistry, Bulgari commissioned a contemporary painting called “Fleeting Moments” from Southern California artist Gena Milanesi, who explained the creation’s swirl of colors is synonymous with watching a West Coast sunset. “I wanted the depth and dynamic tension of the piece to be an immersive experience that complements the collection,” Milanesi explained.

Bulgari Unveils a Major New Look at South Coast Plaza

High jewelry is displayed on cases on the wall.

Following the Tuesday evening opening, VIP guests moved to The Park Club nearby where they were served a five-course Italian meal prepared by Luca Fantin, the executive chef at the Bulgari Ginza Tower in Tokyo.

Bulgari Unveils a Major New Look at South Coast Plaza

Zendaya, wearing a Bulgari diamond ring, at the L.A. premiere of “Challengers” held April 16. Gilbert Flores for Variety.

Also on Tuesday night, up north in Los Angeles, Bulgari ambassador Zendaya wore a High Jewelry diamond ring with one cushion diamond and 18 fancy shape step-cut diamonds and diamond earrings for the latest premiere of her film “Challengers.”

California is one of the largest U.S. markets for Bulgari, the legendary Italian luxury house founded in 1884 by Sotirio Bulgari and now part of LVMH Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton.

“There is a lot of activity that we are projecting for the next few years,” Perrot said of the house’s plans for California. That will be underscored by several store renovations being undertaken across the state.

The Bulgari store at 200 Stockton Street near San Francisco’s Union Square, Perrot said, will move a few blocks away to 200 Grant Street, where a 9,000-square-foot unit will be built out. “It should be a beautiful site,” he said.

The Rodeo Drive store in Beverly Hills will also be expanded to a nearly 10,000-square-foot location covering three floors that will open next year, Perrot said. This all lays the groundwork for the forthcoming Los Angeles Bulgari Hotel — which is expected to open in 2026, only a year after the hotel brand’s first U.S. location, which is set to open in Miami in 2025.

A little more than one year ago, a Bulgari store was added to the Westfield Topanga shopping center, close to the high-end suburbs of Calabasas and Hidden Hills, north of Los Angeles.

Bulgari’s two other major U.S. markets are in New York and Florida. The Italian company has a major flagship in New York at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, which reopened in 2017 after a redesign by famed architect Peter Marino. It has Pantheon-esque marble colonnades and intricate mosaic tiling in a 4,000-square-foot area.