Located in the One Avenue mall, the immersive, 3,230-square-foot retail space is meant to bring forth and reflect harmony — armonia, in Italian — and mindful beauty. Those are at the core of the luxury brand’s identity and purpose, according to Véronique Gautier, Armani beauty global president, at L’Oréal.
“[Armani’s] natural sophistication allows you to reveal who you are — this inner self, inner power,” she said.
For the flagship, the brand conceived numerous new ways for people to disconnect from daily life’s hubbub and reconnect with themselves. The idea is for them to find their own energy, balance between inner and outer light, and create a sense of harmony with the world.
Shenzhen was chosen as the locale since it’s China’s tech capital. The city is also full of young, wealthy people, so it was fitting to debut the new retail experience there.
“It pushed us to innovate,” said Gautier.
As people approach Armonia, they see a towering digital façade with moving images. Then inside, people walk through a corridor, where they can take part in three rituals.
There is a “water ritual,” in which they say out loud their motto of choice, and that is written in water; a “fragranced stone” ritual, to help reveal their emotions, and a “light ritual,” meant to unveil their energy.
“Step by step, you have your diagnosis of harmony,” said Gautier.
That ultimate diagnosis is found in a mini WeChat program, which can be accessed by scanning a QR code at Armonia’s entrance. The diagnosis suggests a path the person can take through the store, or “harmony profile,” and also a unique piece of digital art. That art, in the real world, may be used as a pattern on gift wrapping in-store.
Armonia was conceived as an offline-plus-online experience. “There is a completely seamless journey,” said Gautier.
Go further inside the flagship and there is the Red River, a moving conveyor belt of Armani makeup, fragrance and skin care, including signature products such as Power Fabric Foundation, Lip Maestro, Eyes to Kill, Acqua di Giò, Armani Code, Sì, My Way and Crema Nera.
“We built a harmony of products on little plates offering stories — mixing, for instance, a story of glow, a story of a Christmas look,” said Gautier.
Products from various categories are shown together here and people can try out rituals and looks.
The Precision Lab focuses on skin care, and gives people the chance to have individual consultations at skin care stations or take part in master classes. They can try out the Meta Sculpt facial massage using Crema Nera, too.
The Emotion Lab features an experience, where people using calligraphy brushes and ink are asked to draw their emotions on an interactive screen, which shows what Armani Privé fragrances are in sync with their mood. Those who choose to may also consult with assistants to discover the perfume line, and have patterns printed on to Privé bottles.
The Light Lab experience involves a consultation under various type of lighting to attain a makeup look. People are given a photo of themselves in the look — which can be saved on the WeChat program — that shows how their makeup appears under different lights.
At a gifting station, visitors can have their products wrapped with personalized patterned furoshiki fabric, created from recycled textiles.
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Through the WeChat program, people in China can book an individual consultation in one of the three labs, join Armani’s Signature VIP loyalty program and access the Armani beauty e-boutique.
Armonia has a green theme, too. It’s been granted LEED Platinum certification, the highest level, from the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC, which gives the most widely used green building rating system.
Creating elements of surprise was key to the sleek store’s conception, according to Gautier.
“We wanted something impactful, simple and very strong in terms of design,” she said.
Armonia, which will officially open on Dec. 22, is like a laboratory for Armani, which is testing new experiences for consumers there.
The same concept will be open on the Chinese island of Hainan in the first quarter of next year, and elements of Armonia could be integrated as Armani beauty’s smaller retail spaces are upgraded worldwide. The last in-store makeovers for the brand took place six years ago.
China is a major growth engine for Armani, which has 130 counters in the country. There, the brand ranks fourth in makeup; seventh in fragrance, and is among the top-10 in skin care, according to Gautier.
“We have a strong awareness and success in China,” she said.