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“You spontaneously feel like touching it. You brush it with your fingers, caress it, pat it, pinch it, feel it. You put your hands on Venice.” – Tiziano Scarpa, Venice is a fish
I have been privileged to attend some of the biggest openings in DFS’s history – the unforgettable celebrations and sumptuous elegance of DFS Galleria Okinawa in 2005; the breathtaking ‘luxury only’ emporium at DFS Galleria Macao in 2008; and the 2013 unveiling of the T Galleria by DFS concept at the refurbished Honolulu store. All memorable occasions, all great retail expressions.
But there’s no doubt in my mind that Thursday’s Grand Opening event at T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS topped them all. DFS had been challenged with transforming the 800-year-old Fondaco dei Tedeschi, one of Venice’s greatest landmarks, into a retail emporium. Its achievement though goes far further than that.
“Venice is encrusted with imagination. Its stones creak beneath an impressive pile of apparitions. There isn’t another place in the world that could bear all that visionary tonnage on its shoulders.” Tiziano Scarpa, Venice is a fish
Cynics might say that DFS could hardly fail, given that it was taking possession of a building of such grandeur, such historical significance, such beauty and in such a location. But in fact it could very easily have gone wrong. It could have been crass, clichéd or over-commercialised. Perhaps all three. Many citizens of Venice have been deeply suspicious of this development, fearing that one of their most beloved landmarks was being exploited.
As they enter these famous halls in coming days and months, their fears will be allayed. This is a glorious fusion between the commercial and the cultural. DFS has also balanced local and international products, respected the building’s heritage and added a culture-led exhibition and event programme that can only to the building’s allure and to Venice’s attraction to tourists.
“We’ve become the guardian of something close to people’s hearts,” was the neat summing up of DFS Chairman & CEO Philippe Schaus. That guardianship has been treated with care and faith. The famed Fondaco is in good hands.