“In motherhood, but also in business, I think we can be so quick to ask or take others’ advice that often we stop paying attention to instinct,” says Laure Heriard Dubreuil, founder of the coveted US-based fashion destination, The Webster. “A mother’s instinct is the most powerful.”
After years as a merchandiser for Balenciaga and YSL, in 2009 that self-belief brought Laure to Miami Beach where she opened her first store presenting brands like Margiela and Tom Ford. There are now five stores in different US locations, as well as an online boutique, and the former protégé of Nicholas Ghesquiere lives in New York with her Californian husband and four-year-old son, Marcel. Each store is carefully curated – Chanel sits alongside Rosie Assoulin and Marine Serre – with many exclusive one-off finds. “I think what makes The Webster special is the feeling when you walk in,” says Heriard Dubreuil, who studied economics and Mandarin at the Paris Dauphine University before graduating in merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.“You want to take off your shoes and relax, you feel like you’re at home. We love every single item in our stores and curate them like you would your own wardrobe. We don’t have shop-in-shops and no brand asks to be separate from others, which is something I’m very happy and proud of. We work very closely with designers to come up with exclusive capsules every season, or if there is a shoe we love, we create an exclusive colour for The Webster.” The latest addition to the Webster family is the colourful, casual new children’s collection modelled by Laure’s son. There is also an adorable book, The Adventures of Pinky: Friends in Fun Places, featuring the Webster’s flamingo mascot and inspired by Marcel’s love of reading. Proceeds from it go to Mothers2Mothers, the non-profit organisation Laure is also an ambassador for (“they do extraordinary work,” she says). Recently voted one of the Business of Fashion’s top 500 people shaping the global fashion world, we had to ask how she juggles it all, and what she wears while doing it, (naturally). And don’t miss her great beauty tips for looking wide-awake when you feel anything but. Words: Claire Brayford | Go to www.thewebster.us
Can you tell us about your career path and what made you launch The Webster?
I grew up in France and always thought I wanted to become a nose (the people who create fragrances). So when I was very young I did a few internships with fragrance companies and realised the pace was too slow – it can take three years to create and launch a fragrance. I was attracted by the speed and rhythm of the fashion world so I decided to go to FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology in New York] to learn about merchandising. I met Nicolas Ghesquiere, the designer of Balenciaga at the time, he hired me and I worked with him for many years. It was such a special experience. From there I worked for Saint Laurent with Stefano Pilati as a merchandiser until I decided to move to Miami and start my own business. I had visited Miami during Basel when it was winter in New York and found I had nothing to wear and nowhere to buy anything. I realised there was an incredible opportunity in Miami. Art Basel was bringing an amazing crowd but there were no luxury, multi-brand stores at that time.
How do you juggle it all?
Motherhood definitely helps you to prioritise and be a million times more efficient. I can’t be with Marcel all the time so when we are together, he has my full attention. It’s impossible to do everything perfectly all the time and by yourself, but my husband Aaron is an incredible support and the most amazing father. It took me a while to be comfortable asking for help but it’s this help that keeps me sane. At work, we have more going on than ever which is so exciting but I am lucky to have a really wonderful team… the Webster family!
Tell us about where you live...
I live in New York, in the East Village. We are lucky to have outside space, which can be rare in New York. We have a church next door to us, I love the bells – I find them so soothing. You see a very different side to the city when you’re raising a child there. I love taking Marcel to the Natural History Museum and the Children’s Museum of Arts – it gives me so much joy to see them through his eyes. In the warmer months, we love to go to the Bronx Zoo and see all the animals.
What do you remember most about growing up?
It was really a blissful childhood. I grew up in south-western France where my family produces cognac. My father taught me how to single-out the essence of wines, which I was very good at, I have a very acute sense of smell. I remember when I was little I was on a family vacation and got lost in a labyrinthine hotel. I found my way back to my family by following the trail of my grandmother’s perfume – I remember it so clearly. I think it was from then to my early twenties, I wanted to be a nose.
And how were you raised?
I always knew my mother was superwoman (I am one of four) but after having a baby I understand her as so much more than that. My parents taught me to be independent and to trust my intuition. As I get older I realise how similar I am to my parents. In my case, I’m very grateful. I come from a very close family.
When did your love of fashion begin?
I have always loved fashion and had very specific taste with a strong point of view since I was little. From a very young age, I would dress up my two brothers and sister. They were my first ‘clients’ – followed by my parents.
How did you feel when you discovered you were pregnant?
I’ve known since I was a young girl that I wanted children. Marcel is my greatest joy. He’s just started school, I can’t believe it. I didn’t know it was possible to love someone this much. Romantic love is a bit different. This is unconditional. My heart could burst.
When was the last time Marcel really made you laugh?
Just now. Every day. All the time. I am always amazed by his wit and humour. Four is definitely a wonderful age. I love the everyday activities: helping him to get ready for school and then on the other side, bedtime. Marcel loves to read. So much so he inspired me to bring the mascot of The Webster, a flamingo, to life through a book which we launched recently, The Adventures of Pinky. I could read to him for hours on end.
What kind of mother do you strive to be?
Patient and understanding. My parents never forced their agendas on any of us, they encouraged us to be independent. I think to be present and so full of love that your children always feel it is the ultimate goal.
What do you want to teach Marcel about achieving his dreams?
I hope for my son to be kind, generous and to treat others the way he wants to be treated. I strive daily to instil the same values in him that my mother taught me. To be kind I think is the most important.
What is your approach to health and wellbeing?
I try to be as healthy as possible without being crazy. My husband is vegan and I always joke that I am French so I eat everything but with moderation. I believe in balance. I love avocado – my son says I will turn into one. We even have the Avocado photograph by Bela Borsodi in the Penthouse of The Webster Soho. I also drink lemon water every morning before breakfast (whatever good it does). I like to go on a yoga or meditation retreat every six months to reset.
How do you relax?
It’s difficult to relax in New York. It really operates at a different pace to anywhere else. The energy is so stimulating for me, which I love. In the summer, or whenever I’m in Miami, I love to swim and I always feel great after poolside yoga or Pilates at the Shibui Spa in New York or a class by Taryn Toomey. To relax I travel. We have stores in five US locations, which I travel to throughout the year and, with the team, we fly to Europe for men’s, women’s and couture fashion weeks. It’s also always wonderful to return to France where I grew up. Marcel speaks both French and English, attends a bilingual school and we travel there many times throughout the year. It’s so important to me to instil French values and culture in him now while he’s still little and can share the same experiences I had as a child. Marcel is very connected with his grandparents, great-grandmother and cousins who are based there. Aaron was born and raised in California, which creates a really nice balance for Marcel as we’ve always made sure he is immersed in both cultures.
How do you treat yourself?
I am a very loyal person (and customer) so would always wait until I was in France to have my hair cut – I go to David Mallett, and the scalp massage is to die for. Next month he opens his first US outpost in New York on the fifth floor of The Webster SOHO! I’m so excited.
Do you have a mum uniform?
I would describe my style as classic with a twist or ‘Paris-to-Miami-through-NYC’. I never sacrifice comfort for the look – if I am not comfortable I won’t feel or look good. Dresses and skirts with a blouse or T-shirt are my uniform. I launched LHD, a label inspired by travel, last year. So far we have had collections devoted to Miami and St Tropez, which I lived in this summer. It’s colourful and very easy to wear. I also love Celine, Stella McCartney, The Row and everything from Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s Chloe.
And finally, what do you swear by for faking sleep?
Water, water, water. I don’t drink coffee but love green tea and matcha, which help. La Bouche Rouge lipsticks have just the right pop of colour to feel and look more awake. Sisley Face Exfoliator is now a permanent part of my morning cleansing routine. Living in the city, your skin runs the risk of dullness, and this gives you a glow that I haven’t experienced with other products. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm is magic for a skin boost used as a mask or under day cream. I use Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask once or twice a week, it helps to bring my skin back to life. I’ve tried so many but I love the La Prairie Caviar Eye Cream as it’s not heavy and helps me look like I’ve slept for 10 hours. My skin loves Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, it is super nourishing – believe the hype. And YSL Touche Éclat brightens when all of the above didn’t work.
Laure’s little list of loves:
I just started to watch TV show Maniac with Emma Stone and I might become addicted. Ellen Arkbro’s hypnotic music: I can listen to it for hours. A facial with Joanna Czech. Acupuncture to fix everything. Lobmeyr glasses made exclusively for The Webster x Les Ateliers Courbet, with handpainted elements of our vintage wallpapers. The Franz Gertsch show at the Swiss Institute in NYC: I was head-over-toe for his work. La Grande Épicerie du Bon Marche – my go-to for anything to do with food in Paris. David Mallett hair serum – I never go anywhere without it. The Adventures of Pinky – the children’s book we just launched with The Webster Kids.