PARIS — Armand Hadida is marking the 30th anniversary of the chain of L’Eclaireur concept stores he created with his wife Martine — but don’t ask the restless retailer to talk about the past.
Ask about the future, though, and he gets so excited he leaps out of his chair to expound on his vision of 21st-century retailing. It stands to reason for a born salesman who prides himself on being ahead of the curve.
When the couple opened their first multibrand store in the basement of a mall on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in 1980, it seemed a risky venture. They started selling jeweled Navajo belts, for what was then a small fortune. The late French pop singer Daniel Balavoine told Hadida he was nuts — and promptly snapped one up.
The Hadidas haven’t stopped taking gambles since.
“We acquired a taste for daring, for pushing the boundaries, and above all, we understood that surprising people put us in a favorable position,” he said.
They did that by launching stores that combined emerging clothing labels with avant-garde architecture and industrial design (L’Eclaireur carries women’s wear brands such as Balmain, Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garçons, Haider Ackermann and Marni, while its men’s wear selection includes Rick Owens, Isaac Sellam, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck and Carol Christian Poell).
To mark their milestone, the company is launching separate exhibitions by photojournalist-turned-artist Gilles Ouaki at three of its Paris locations on Thursday reflecting Hadida’s latest obsession: blending art and commerce.
His latest venture, Royal Eclaireur, is a “nonboutique” designed by Philippe Starck and set to open in the restored Royal Monceau hotel early next year. Designed to resemble a hotel suite, it will feature only one item per designer, curated by Hadida, alongside contemporary art exhibits.
Before that, L’Eclaireur will open a sixth Paris boutique in the Marais focused on must-have items and accessories. An annex of the women’s wear boutique at 40 Rue de Sévigné, the space will likewise be designed by Belgian artist Arne Quinze and will carry items including bags by Balenciaga, jewelry by Sara Weinstock, shawls from Faliero Sarti and Linda Farrow sunglasses.
Hadida is also venturing into e-commerce, with plans to launch online sales in the second half of October.
“It implies above all trying to offer things that will not be available in stores, to have fun and to avoid showcasing the most sophisticated items, which require some assistance on the Web platform,” he explained. “My dream would be to show each item with one of my sales associates explaining it from A to Z.”
By next year, Hadida hopes to acquire a 3-D camera that will allow him to scan his customers’ bodies and e-mail them personalized suggestions based on their measurements.
Though he appears to be embracing the possibilities offered by new technologies, Hadida depicts e-commerce as a necessary evil, blaming rude and incompetent sales staff for driving customers to the Web.
“We don’t have a culture of service in France,” he stated. “But I think that people who are used to a respectable level of service will continue to shop in the same way they have done for years for a long while to come.”
But the retail theater he so cherishes may soon come at a price. “In future, we will have to charge for services like ours,” he predicted. “It will be compulsory because a business…won’t be able to survive financially if it aims to provide a high standard of service.”
It is a typically provocative statement from a man who still views himself as an outsider. “It is a daily battle, particularly in France,” he sighed. “I feel like a gladiator who is fighting for survival and who must kill lion after lion to win his freedom.”
His list of bugbears is long: French consumers who only buy designer items on sale; major luxury brands and what he describes as their bloated margins and cookie-cutter approach to retailing, and designers who collaborate with high-street brands.
What keeps Hadida going is his overflowing imagination. Consider his vision for the high-street store of the future: cafes where you will be able to buy everything from a suit to a new plug for your iPhone from the comfort of your seat, aided by performing waiters modeling the latest clothing looks for sale.
“I’m talking about breaking the mold of stores which I find totally obsolete today and which have polluted the major arteries of every capital in the world,” he said vehemently. “We must anticipate, we must stop copying, because overproduction can kill a system. So we must start thinking about the face of retail tomorrow.”
In the meantime, Hadida will be sticking to his singular marketing credo.
“I don’t do commercial fashion. There is no power in that: If you go commercial, the customer has the power and not the salesman. The salesman only possesses an ounce of power if he feeds the curiosity, startles the eye and breaks the habits of that customer,” he said.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty