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The London Eye: Breaking With Tradition

Harvey Nichols and Selfridges have given their newest beauty spaces a bustling, market-place feel, filled with a highly edited selection of products.

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Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 11/09/2012

Two London department stores have given their newest beauty spaces a bustling, market-place feel, filled with a highly edited selection of products. In September, Selfridges opened the Beauty Workshop, a 5,000-square-foot space that carries 50 different brands and offers services such as tanning treatments, manicures and blow-dries. That same month, Harvey Nichols debuted Beauty Mart on the third floor of its London flagship. Conceived by beauty journalist Anna-Marie Solowij and Millie Kendall, who cofounded Ruby & Millie cosmetics, the area spotlights the duo’s hand-picked selection of products from around 100 brands. Here, Nina Jones tours the two new spaces.

 

Beauty Mart at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge

 

Anna-Marie Solowij and Millie Kendall’s new space in Harvey Nichols is built around what the two industry veterans see as a “cherry pick” of the products they believe in. That ranges from makeup-artist staples such as Bioderma’s Crealine cleansing solution and Embryolisse’s Lait-Crème Concentré to nostalgic pharmacy favorites such as 4711 Cologne, Batiste Dry Shampoo and Revlon’s Charlie fragrance. There’s also niche, high-end brands such as Bio Effects skin care and Sachajuan hair care. Solowij and Kendall took
a tailored approach to sourcing products from each brand. Rather than buying a label’s complete range, they made a magpielike selection of their favorite products. “[Kendall and I] are sufficiently outside
[retail] to be able to see that there’s something that needs to be done, and then by hook or by crook finding a way of doing that,” says Solowij, referring to their curatorial approach to product. “It’s non-brand thinking, and that’s what makes the difference.” Products range from an 80 cent bar of Camay soap to $472 for the electronic BabyBelle body buffer.

The 300-square-foot area is done out like an haute grocery store, with neon signs and shiny black shelves lined with products. The products are all arranged on easily accessible shelves; customers can also experiment with makeup at dressing table units set up in the space. (Later this year, a beauty product vending machine outpost will open on the fifth floor.)

“We wanted [to have] good mirrors, not-frightening lighting—I don’t know why beauty lighting is so criminally viscous,” says Solowij. “I would like to think that the women who come in here look great, but if you can give them something that they’re going to enjoy using and that they think makes them look better, then fantastic.” Solowij expects the new area, located alongside the store’s contemporary fashion collections, to appeal to a wide demographic—“from younger girls to older women and pretty much everyone in between,” she says. Harvey Nichols apparently agrees: Later this fall, Beauty Mart will open a concession in Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols’ new standalone beauty store set to open in Liverpool, England.

 

NEXT: The Beauty Workshop at Selfridges, Oxford Street >>

 

The Beauty Workshop at Selfridges, Oxford Street

 

“You’ve heard the term fast fashion—this is fast beauty,” says Jayne Demuro, head of beauty at Selfridges, referring to the fact that she believes the choice of brands in the Beauty Workshop space “reflects many women’s makeup choices.” “If you opened up most women’s makeup bags there would be a selection of products across varying price ranges…it’s very much a fashion way of shopping, teaming Topshop jeans with a Chanel blazer,” she says. To wit, brands in the new area range from makeup by Stila and Butter London to skin care by Eve Lom, Caudalie and Perricone MD. To advise customers across the brands, sales associates are employed by Selfridges rather than the companies themselves. Beauty Workshop also focuses on services. The space offers everything from a St. Tropez customized spray tan that enhances the contours of the body, about $40, to eyebrow threading at its Blink lash bar, $27, to manicures at The Paint Shop nail bar, which start at $30. The treatments have proved to be a hit with customers. Demuro says that in the area’s first week, Selfridges performed more than 500 blow-dries and around 600 manicures. The Paint Shop has also sold more than 6,000 bottles of polish in the weeks since its launch. And Demuro notes that the Workshop will “constantly evolve.” Next up for the holidays: Ciate’s velvet manicures, designed to give a textured effect to nails, and a new high- end tanning treatment from St. Tropez. “This is where the real strength of the space is,” says Demuro. “It has been designed to change and develop.”

 

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