Versace to design interior of Clock Tower in NY

MILAN Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:10pm BST

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MILAN (Reuters) - Italian luxury brand Versace will design the interior renovation of New York's Clock Tower building on Madison Avenue, which is owned by Africa Israel, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

Versace, known for its Medusa-head logo and penchant for lashings of gold, will kit out 55 apartments and a spa in the century-old building, which was inspired by the bell tower in Venice's famous St Mark's square.

An exclusive club at the complex will be designed personally by the brand's figurehead Donatella Versace.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Africa Israel paid $200 million for the Clock Tower building last year and said then it would take around two years at a cost of $110 million to renovate.

The completed complex is expected to be worth about $1 billion.

The project, which will include a penthouse of over 1,000 square meters, is another indication the current credit crunch and financial market falls are not having much impact on the luxury end of property markets, fashion and interior design.

On Tuesday, French luxury silk scarves and leather goods maker Hermes said sales were up 12.1 percent in the second quarter. Versace, whose glamorous gowns cost thousands of euros, said in March it was not feeling the effects of the economic slowdown.

Versace Chief Executive Officer Giancarlo Di Risio told Reuters the brand brought the right experience to the project.

"We only do luxury projects, only the most luxurious residences, condominiums," Di Risio said.

Versace already has a track record in interior design, working on hotels and apartments, luxury yachts and even helicopter interiors.

Two years ago, the Italian marque furnished 32 apartments above the Plaza hotel in New York. "Versace designs everything it does from A to Z," Di Risio said.

He said there were currently no other projects in the pipeline with Africa Israel, an Israeli conglomerate controlled by billionaire Lev Leviev which has interests in real estate, energy, hotels, fashion and infrastructure.

The Clock Tower building was designed by Napoleon LeBrun and first used by MetLife as its headquarters in 1909.

(Additional reporting by Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv; editing by Robert Hart)

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