Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Ten months ago, The Webster opened a new location in Los Angeles designed by Sir David Adjaye. The shopping destination’s founder, Laure Hériard-Dubreuil, has had much success in cities like Miami and New York, so it was no surprise her West Coast debut was a hit.
Today, shoppers in these U.S. cities can expect to find hot-off-the-runway fashion from designers like Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander, and Loewe, as well as design pieces galore. Hériard-Dubreuil also has a keen eye for art, with works hanging in her shops and in her home—ranging from her contemporary artist husband’s Aaron Young’s work to creations by friends like Nate Lowman and Adam McEwen.
Whitewall spoke with Hériard-Dubreuil about founding The Webster eleven years ago, how her personal style has evolved, and how the shopping spirit has been supercharged due to the pandemic.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your journey leading up to The Webster—from studying to Balenciaga and YSL. When you opened your store in Miami in 2009, you didn't know anyone there. Why did you choose Miami?
LAURE HÉRIARD-DUBREUIL: I started at the University de Paris Dauphine, earning degrees in both business and Mandarin, moving to Shanghai to become fluent in both the language and the culture. I decided that I wanted to follow my love for fashion, moving to New York to study merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating, I landed a job in Paris at Balenciaga, working alongside Nicolas Ghesquiére and then going to Yves Saint Laurent to work as women’s ready-to-wear merchandiser for Stefano Pilati.
Working for these two amazing influential leaders, was the absolute best experience, and ultimately prepared me to have the confidence to go out on my own. I was on a work trip to New York for the market, and on the spur of the moment, I decided to go to Art Basel in Miami for the weekend. I hadn't packed any clothes that were suitable for Miami in December let alone, the chicest weekend of the year there!
While I fell utterly in love with Miami for its Art Deco architecture, the culture, and its energy, I could not find a shopping experience that matched! It was this what inspired me to create The Webster, the uncovering of an amazing untapped market and the finding of the historic Art Deco hotel The Webster Hotel built-in 1939 by architect Henry Hohauser, which became our South Beach Flagship. My vision was to bring a new fashion experience through a curated assortment of the most established fashion houses to the most recent designers launches in a residential environment, combining art and design/vintage furniture.
WW: You originally wanted to become a perfumer. Tell us a bit about this and how you transitioned to fashion.
LHD: Growing up in Cognac, France, my father taught me about our family business, learning how to refine my nose. I have always had such a keen sense of smell even from the young age of five. I was able to find my grandmother in a hotel through her bedroom door based on her perfume's scent. I ultimately thought this would be the direction of my career, however, after learning more about the process, it is much slower than fashion. Given my nature, I am always moving at a rapid speed that fashion was a natural extension.
WW: How has The Webster evolved since its inception? How has it embraced the global interests of its customers?
LHD: Like most companies, we have evolved with the times, but the foundation and the DNA of The Webster will forever remain the same. It will always be about the curation and the level of service that we can provide to our clients. It is our dedication to having a creatively curated selection of designers both of heritage and up-in-coming, merchandised together in a lifestyle setting that has captured our clients' interest globally. As we continue to open stores, our focus over the years has been on expanding our reach as an omnichannel retailer by adding services like a Private Client team and investing in our e-commerce platform.
The Private Client team offers a digital styling experience creating personal edits that meet the wishes and lifestyle of their clients, while also being able to source sought-after gems and pre-order the latest collections. We have been able to identify how our clients like to shop, cater to their preference, whether it is to come into the store or to work digitally with their stylist and continue to offer The Webster experience of a personalized one on one experience across all channels.
Our most recent evolution is our joining of Rewiring Fashion, a proposal that we, designers, and other retailers have committed to resetting the fashion industry. Creating an industry that is more sustainable and preserves the beauty and creativity that is bestowed on the world while allowing our businesses to survive and grow in this current climate. While it is just the beginning, we are more than ever inspired to take these first steps as the structure from runway to client has hardly changed in the last 50 years!
WW: Can you tell us a bit about how your stories differ depending upon location?
LHD: From the design of them to the buys that are found in them, each one of our stores are so beautifully different in their own way. Starting with South Beach, our original location set the tone for the aesthetic of our stores. In South Beach, the essence of Miami (Art Deco, terrazzo marble, sunshine, and pink), can be found from floor to ceiling, the buy is timeless yet playful and vibrant to cater to the energy.
Bal Harbour has strong ties to "Miami Vice" vibes from a design perspective, with a very sophisticated buy. Our Houston outpost is quite contemporary, with a strong focus on our menswear selection. South Coast Plaza, brings the feeling of Miami with a West Coast perspective, with a buy of more daring and trend-focused pieces.
Our New York location is set in historically cobble stone SoHo in a six-story cast-iron building that is also home to David Mallett Hair Salon and Joanna Czech Studio. The buy caters to the contemporary yet playful city type, in a setting that captures design aspects of both historical Miami and New York. Our latest store Los Angeles is the most unique standing at 11,000 square feet of pink concrete and designed by Sir David Adjaye.
WW: Are there any new brand additions that you're particularly excited about?
LHD: Everything from Bottega Veneta by Daniel Lee, Loewe’s Paula Ibiza capsule collection, and EERA's earrings are a must for the season. Also, Jil Sander, especially the bags!
WW: Tell us a bit about some of the recent past collaborations you've had. Are there any new ones on the horizon?
LHD: 2019 was a year filled with exciting departures. We launched a new category, The Webster Home, hosted Rihanna's first LVMH Fenty Pop Up in our Soho location and launched a series of exclusives product capsules from Paco Rabanne and Off-White to name a few!
I am still so excited about the release of my latest LHD Collection this past June, inspired by my travels to Biarritz. This collection definitely is a breakthrough collection as it enters into other categories such as pants, knit sets, and new dress styles that we have not offered before. Our best-selling styles, like the Casitas Dress and the Glades, will also be back in a new range of bright and bold prints representing the foundation of what LHD was built on.
WW: Tell us a bit about what's seen in your home art and design-wise. What artists or designers speak personally to you?
LHD: While it feels like I just started getting settled into my new house in Los Angeles, my collection of art and furniture that has traveled with me from Paris to Miami to New York and now here, create a real sense of home and comfort, providing endless memories. Of course, pieces from husband, artist Aaron Young can be found throughout our home as well as pieces from our dear friends like Nate Lowman and Adam McEwen.
It is also so nice when you move around pieces in a new home as it feels like you’re rediscovering them like a stunning piece we had in NYC by Anne Collier, Studio Moonlight 2008, that is now in our bedroom and has a complete new story. I am also thinking of our three original Franz West lamps that have been the guiding light in our home for the past 12 years providing us with warmth and passion.
WW: Tell us a bit about what's in your closet. What do you like to wear?
LHD: Ever since becoming a mom, I have prioritized the function of a piece just as much as the look of it. For an everyday look, I love to mix pieces from my own line, LHD, with vintage tees, Chloé skirts or Khaite denim, and sneakers from Pierre Hardy or Stella McCartney. Other pieces that are always in rotation from designers such as Chanel, Celine, and Proenza Schouler!
WW: Speaking of being a mom—in 2015, you became an ambassador for Mothers2Mothers. Can you tell us a bit about your philanthropic work?
LHD: Being a mother and a female entrepreneur, I instantly felt connected to the work that Mothers2Mothers does. Helping empower and support women by providing them with the resources they need to save lives. As a company, throughout the year, we work on projects that bring awareness and donations to this amazing cause.
WW: With the pandemic impacting brick-and-mortar businesses, how is The Webster thinking of its future? Will there be any changes to the way of business?
LHD: We are really fortunate to have been able to maintain a very strong business despite this unprecedented situation focusing on the amazing relationships we built with our clients over the years as well as recruiting new ones online and providing all of them with the best personalized service and curated assortment we could. We completely accelerated our omnichannel presence and strength during this time and we are going to continue to do so! The Webster's inception was during the 2008 recession, so resiliency is at the core of our business as well as our focus on quality over quantity!
Seeing how excited clients are to be able to come back and visit us as soon as the stores reopened. One thing that is for sure is that people still desire a personal experience, a see, feel, touch moment within a setting that makes them feel comfortable to dream is something that will never change.