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Harrods opens freestanding beauty store concept

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London’s famed Harrods department store is branching out even as other retailers shrink their footprints.

Harrods opened its first-ever freestanding beauty store, H Beauty, at Lakeside Shopping Centre, Lakeside, Essex, England. A second U.K. location is set to open in spring 2021.

Designed by global agency Virgile + Partners, the 23,000-sq.-ft. store spotlights premium and luxury brands and edgy newcomers in a sleek, modern environment that allows shoppers to engage with and learn more about the products on display. 

The space includes eight brand boutiques, including Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford and Kiel’s, along with dedicated zones for makeup, skincare (facials are among the offerings) and fragrance. Innovative technology is integrated into the space, including “magic” mirrors where customers can virtually try on different makeup products and colors and a Playtable, which offers access to dry hairstyling and makeup demos and consultations. (Due to the pandemic, H Beauty has put in place an array of measures to ensure customer and employee safety.)

Other features include a hair bar for blow-outs and a champagne bar with a marble-topped counter. There is also a semi-enclosed lounge area where customers can pick up – and try on – clothing purchased online.

The space has a free flow loop design that guides shoppers along a custom pale grey and blush Italian terrazzo tile floor. In an Instagrammable touch, an oversize sculpture of an H Beauty teddy bear — an updated take on Harrods’ signature mascot —welcomes customers at the store entrance.

In a bold break with Harrods tradition, the branding for H Beauty - including the store entrance signage – is done in a newly created muted blush tone. The color is referenced in the store, most noticeably in the curved arches framing each boutique and overall structural framework. 

“The objective of the Virgile + Partners design was making the idea of premium beauty become lighter, more playful and accessible, social and interactive, aiming to inspire younger beauty followers and attracting them to enjoy a new type of glamorous ‘out of the box’ beauty world,”  said Carlos Virgile, director at Virgile + Partners.

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