LONDON — Harrods’ beauty hall has undergone a makeover with the aim of becoming a thoroughly modern proposition with a beauty concierge, masterclasses and virtual play area, not to mention spaces to see and be seen, according to Annalise Fard, director of beauty at Harrods.
In an interview, Fard described the new hall as “a beauty wonderland.” When phases one, two and three are complete, the hall will be 53 percent bigger than the existing space and will take over the former men’s wear space on the ground floor, the current beauty hall and the lower ground floor.
Fard argued that there hasn’t been much innovation in department store beauty spaces generally and that this was “a super opportunity to create something new,” and offer the customer multiple ways of interacting with beauty.
“My vision is to create an environment that allows for a fully immersive brand experience like nowhere else in the world, a playground to discover the world’s most innovative new beauty products, as well as a place to celebrate can’t-live-without icons. Most of all, it will be a must-visit destination and a platform to create engaging, must-see content for our clients,” Fard said.
Phase one opens on Tuesday and will house color cosmetics and lifestyle beauty brands. The second phase, which will open in September is all about skin care, and the final one, opening in December, will house the department store’s beauty treatment center.
The changes in beauty are part of a larger overhaul of key departments such as men’s, home and the food halls with the store investing more than 200 million pounds with the aim of redesigning Harrods around the needs of the modern luxury customer. Some 150,000 square feet are under development, and the men’s space alone is in the midst of a seven-phase project.
Below is a rundown of what customers can expect from Harrods’ new look.
In designing the space, Fard and her team drew inspiration from the Harrods archives, English heritage and American department stores. Spanning 90,000 square feet, the back entrance, which faces Basil Street, boasts a console table, a large chandelier and a fireplace.
Adding to the grandiosity, a large staircase has been built into the middle of the beauty hall leading to the lower ground floor level, where the beauty treatment rooms will be situated.
“We wanted to bring across this feeling of being in a residence, so we’re not just inviting customers into our store, but rather inviting guests into our home,” said Fard, adding that Art Deco patterns cover the tops of marble columns and form the marble floor.
With regard to the scale of the space, Fard said she took cues from American department stores. “It’s probably the only part in Harrods that is influenced by American stores. It’s open plan, with very high ceilings, so that you can see across the whole space,” she said.
Fard wanted to brand the space as unmistakably Harrods and allow each brand’s aesthetic to shine through.
At the MAC counter, the marble floor transitions from white pink and Champagne gold, to the brand’s shades of gray and black, while the Giorgio Armani space is decked with Armani/Casa furniture.
“We really wanted to capture all of the fabulousness of the brands in their own space,” Fard added.
New Services: Treatment Centers and Masterclasses
Fard described the treatment rooms, which will be located on the lower ground level, as “the high touch Harrods experience.”
New treatment centers will be located in the downstairs area of the beauty hall and differ from Harrods’ existing fourth floor wellness center, offering an alternative range of treatments and services. There will be a beauty concierge center, where visitors can ask for a range of services such as an infusion drip, blow-dry, makeover or a facial.
“Some of the rooms will be retail product led. Brands such as Dior, Chanel, La Mer or La Prairie can deliver exceptional facials,” she said.
Next to the treatment rooms, there will be two spaces for beauty masterclasses. One room will be for more intimate classes of up to 10 clients while the other will resemble an auditorium that can house up to 30 guests. Fard said she wants to bring YouTube to life and to offer universal expertise to the Harrods client.
To wit, the rooms will be lined with digital screens that can live-stream a chemist in Switzerland or a perfumer in France to the class.
Ideally, Fard also wants to live-stream the backstage beauty process at fashion shows to the Harrods audience. “We’re going to offer what you can’t get on YouTube, and that’s talking to the makeup artist live. For example, we’ll have the makeup artist of Dior doing the models’ looks, and our clients can ask him questions on the spot,” Fard added.
Exclusive content will also be broadcast on digital screens in the beauty hall space.
Virtual and Digital
A chandelier made from digital screens will hang above the grand staircase. It is here that Fard plans to show masterclass content for shoppers to view. “The experience is immersive and inclusive, you can watch from over the balcony of the staircase or you can even see them from outside the store or on Harrods’ social channels,” she added.
Immersive beauty is a big focus for Fard. She’ll be taking this to the next level by using augmented reality screens in what she refers to as the “Millennial room.” This is where the must-have beauty products and latest releases will be housed, such as a beauty blenders and makeup brands such as Surratt, RMK and Becca, which will all be new to Harrods. The department store will also be launching its own makeup tools as well.
Although the room has the same Champagne pink marble countertops as the rest of the space, it’s called the Millennial room because of the virtual try-on mirrors. A 16-feet table anchors the space, and along it are gilded virtual mirrors where customers can virtually try on lipstick or eye shadows.
“We worked really hard with our internal IT team to make it as genuine as possible. It’s a place where you can bring your girlfriends or play on your own or hang out, and because the walls are made from glass, it gets a lot of natural light,” Fard said, adding that she expects it to generate a lot of social buzz.
From makeup artist to fashion house to lifestyle brands, the beauty hall will be home to different categories. Anastasia Beverly Hills and Becca will be debuting in the space and Gucci makeup will be launching exclusively with the department store. Harrods will also house the first Hermès beauty boutique in the U.K.
The lifestyle beauty brands category, which Fard is hoping to grow quickly, includes Le Labo, Penhaligon’s, and the new South American brand, Fueguia 1883. Their skin-care section will have K-beauty and J-beauty favorites as well as an area for organic and natural beauty products.
Fard is also working with brands to create limited-edition box sets. “When brands send influencers and journalists new products, they’re presented in these incredible beauty boxes, and I want to be able to offer this to the Harrods customer and they can shop these limited-edition drops,” she said.
In total, the new beauty hall will offer around 97,000 lipsticks and more than 1,800 liters of fragrance.