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Bloomies readies a "Buon Natale!"

Bloomingdale's will celebrate the winter holiday season with Italian flair this year, basing its collection on a Casa Italia theme.

Furniture and domestics are at the core of the collection, which has product either made in Italy or inspired by it. The collection includes ceramics, electronics and food, said Lester Gribetz, vp, home fashion. "It drifts into Christmas, but the nucleus is still Italian."

As in the past, Bloomingdale's has invested big with this collection, with domestics buys well over $1 million, he added, and the floor will be set by the end of August. The group, which focuses on gold and autumn tones, will also be included in the catalog that drops Sept. 14.

The collection is "very transitional for domestics," Gribetz added. "There's nothing period in feeling. It's very updated."

Gribetz also said that its East Meets West promotion, launched in March, was "a smash. All of the unique things are gone. It was a very well-priced collection."

He added that he's seen a marked shift from traditional, classical looks. Consumers are learning how to mix different styles, and the East Meets West "really clicked. We never believed it would be so successful."

This change has also been seen in furniture, where modern upholstery has grown beyond 50 percent.

Bath designer Nick Munro will be getting his own shop in the stores as of Aug. 1, Gribetz added, and in the future the collection will expand into sheets.

Bloomingdale's Medinah Home + Furniture store in downtown Chicago has been very successful since its February opening, he added. "Some days, its business is equal to New York's." The beauty of the store layout is that it can shrink or expand the space of a designer or category depending on the trends.

Three more future stores are slated to also open with this flexible layout. A Home + Furniture format store is scheduled to open in the Oakbrook Center in the Chicago area this September, while in October, two full-line stores in the Atlanta area will open, in Lenox and Perimeter.

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