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Stylish shopping experience

   
YEOH: A Gallery of rich experiences.

New Straits Times, 4 July 2005

The Starhill Gallery in Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL houses various designer outlets as well as being the Global Fine Watch Retailer carrying 70 luxurious brands, unparallelled in any shopping centre worldwide, writes JULIA JAAFAR.

THOSE with a keen eye for all things rich and beautiful will have a new place to look to for high-end goods when Starhill Gallery in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur officially opens on July 30.

It will house more than 30 retailers of luxury labels, some of which will be setting up outlets in Malaysia for the first time.

With the reinvention of the former Starhill Centre; investments by new tenants; and reinvestments by existing retailers, well-heeled Malaysians need no longer go to Singapore, Hong Kong or London for the latest designer goods.

American label Anne Klein, Mulberry bags and shoes, Garrard jewellery, Asprey house of fashion are among the new names that will set up their stand-alone boutiques, adding colour to the local shopping scene.

Familiar designer goods retailers Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Alfred Dunhill, Chopard, Cole Haan, Jim Thompson, Cortina and Swiss Union watch boutiques, also promise up-to-date range of their merchandise.

Taking pride in the new development, YTL Corporation Berhad MD Tan Sri Francis Yeoh said: “The renovation of the Gallery costs tens of millions of ringgit and houses only the arbiters of style.

“It’s a gallery of rich experiences,” he said, adding that in accordance with their emphasis on fine craftsmanship courtesy of iconic mall designer, American architect David Rockwell, Starhill promises a stylish shopping experience.

“People deserve a better crack at life and lifestyle. They deserve to come and shop in a nice environment, or eat if they want to eat and not feel pushed to spend,” said Yeoh who detests typical shopping centres comprising “rows of shops like birds on a wire.”

Yet, he said, Starhill is a place people go to with a purpose “because there are many brands that are exclusively here. You don’t find people just milling about.”

To a certain extent, it is the ideal place for big spenders who appreciate privacy. A stroll into the building will give the impression that it is otherwise quiet.

Aptly, he added, security is also an important factor as there is a strong uniformed and non-uniformed presence on the premises.


   
STYLISH: The latest of fine fashion at the Gallery.

If you’re looking at a mall with the men’s section on the first floor and the household section on the top floor, you will be surprised to find that there are no arrows at the escalators pointing to such directions.

Instead, each floor bears a theme.

The lower ground floor featuring 13 restaurants is called Feast Village. Indulge is located on the ground floor for retailers of leather goods and fashion accessories such as Cole Haan, Aigner and Kenzo. More fashion accessories as well as watches can be found at Adorn, on the upper ground floor, while jewellery, home decor and lifestyle products are found at Explore on the first floor.

Tired of shopping? Take a step up to the second floor, and Pamper yourself at the many beauty salons and spas including Spa Indrani among others.

Those looking at fine dining can head straight to the third floor and Relish, the most exquisite dining experiences at the finest of restaurants like Japanese eateries Gonbei and Jogoya.

Those with a penchant for art, Muse yourselves away at the art galleries on the fourth floor. Coincidentally, Smooth Stones, a black-and-white photography exhibition is taking place until Sept 30.

According to Yeoh, Malaysia is one of the most powerful retail centres of fine watches in the world.

“Starhill Gallery is the Global Fine Watch Retailer with 20,000 sq ft of retail space carrying 70 luxurious brands, unparallelled in any shopping centre in any city on this globe.”

Apparently, world-renowned F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya buys US$1 million (RM3.8 million) worth of watches during his visits simply because, “the watches here are authentic and the service provided by our people — including the discount offered to collectors — is satisfying.”

Indeed, a lot of positive changes have taken place since YTL’s acquisition of nearby Lot 10, Starhill (then Starhill Centre) and JW Marriott Hotel in March 1999. Yeoh explained he realised then “a little too late” that the Kuala Lumpur retail industry was not as glitzy as it had appeared to be.

“I found out to my dismay that the only tenants that were paying rentals promptly were the watch and camera retailers. It was clear then that the duty-free factor enabled them to thrive.

“International retailers like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior were thought to be expensive and the items were more than a couple of seasons old. As a result, most Malaysians preferred to shop overseas for these plush items. Some even hoped that presents bought in local malls were not what they would get for Christmas!”

Since the rejuvenation of Jalan Bukit Bintang into what Yeoh described as Kuala Lumpur’s answer to Paris’ Champs Elysees, the city has become an increasingly exciting shopping destination.

“Shopping will be a great phenomenon in the city if we can complement it with the best global brands at competitive prices. I’m quite glad that all the global, regional and local retailers have voted with their purse.”




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