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Meryl Hadida Shabani: L’Eclaireur brings Parisian taste to Los Angeles
One year from the store opening in the United States, here’s the secrets and goals of founder Hadida Shabani
Meryl Hadida, founder of L'Eclaireur Los Angeles, introduces her concept store specialising in design and art
Meryl Hadida Shabani left Paris – her all-time fave city in the world – four years ago and moved to Los Angeles for love. Since then, she got married, gave birth to her first child and opened a prestigious design boutique: L’Eclaireur, set in West Hollywood, the city’s actual design district. If that sounds familiar, well, you would better know that Paris is home to four fellow concept stores of the same name first founded by Meryl’s parents, Martine and Armand Hadida, back in the 1980s.
They once narrowed their focus on fashion by creating fashion-centric ad hoc spaces, site-specific installations and design pieces. For her part, Meryl want completely the other way. L’Eclairuer Los Angeles is all about art and design. The goal? To offer both unrepresented artists and makers (whether emerging or well-established) an actual stage in the city of angels.
Located on 450, Robertson Boulevard, the three-storey retail store boasts some cheekily French vibes and hosts new and vintage design pieces sharing a core of uniqueness: indeed, the building sets a minimalist stage for a quirky selection of strictly one-of-a-kind furniture and functional art.
The venue was once home to florist-to-the-stars David Jones, who used to live at the third floor and gets frequent visits by celebs of the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, the Reagans and Betsy Bloomingdales.
We meet the store founder Hadida Shabani to know more about her innovative project, while indulging in a displayed design bonanza including the works of Zaha Hadid, Carol Christian Poell, Ado Chale, Arne Quizne and Ben Storms (just to name a few…).
Meryl, the Paris boutiques specialise in fashion, without disdaining design. Here in L.A. it is just the opposite.
Indeed. L’Eclaireur Los Angeles is devoted to art and design, although we included three clothing collections to keep the link with our Parisian history.
Your parents once founded one of the world’s most famous fashion concept stores, and now it is your turn. Was it a matter of DNA or rather the dream of a lifetime?
I guess both. The L.A. project is so important to me, I’ve been fantasising about it for years and I can’t believe it actually came true. It took loads of efforts, two-year-long restoration works and an astonishing amount of energy. Today, I couldn’t be prouder.
Why Los Angeles.
It was love at first sight. I came here to follow my husband, whom I met during a trip to Miami. After a couple of years, I came to realise that a fresh new, vibrant energy was not only stirring in the fields of art and design, but also tirelessly growing and changing. Prestigious museums were popping up and art galleries doubled, so I thought it was time to bring our family history in the US with the firm belief that our love for design had found fertile ground.
Was that a brave decision, or more a well-pondered one?
At first I took a risk, but now I am totally convinced it was an obvious choice.
The fashion world is deeply troubled nowadays, especially here in Los Angeles, where frantic online shopping and regular sales in department stores are killing boutique shops one by one. Back in Paris, we are still safe: the e-commerce world is not as wild as in the US, although we know it is just a matter of time. Subsequently, the fashion boutique formula is going to need a frequent and drastic restyling, too. Strong of their lifetime passion for fashion, my parents taught me to never leave things as they are and always think of the next move. My goal is to anticipate my customers’ requirements ahead of 5 years.
Your showroom/gallery is blowing out its first candle. Were your expectations met?
Well, you never know what to expect from a new adventure, especially seen that Los Angeles is an utterly different planet from Paris, which I still call home. At the very beginning, we simply wanted to surprise people, weaken their curiosity and let them discover something previously unseen. Things haven’t changed much. We still want each piece of our selection to tell a special story.
Did something catch you off-guard at first?
Sure, I mean, the large majority of furniture projects are managed by interior designers – with whom we interact the most – more than by private clients. If in Paris the business is basically “B to C”, here in L.A. is more of a “B to B” affair. Still, we also rely on a substantial array of private customers.
You also stage temporary installations. What about your latest project?
It was the solo show by Parisian artist Pierre Bonnefille, an actual «Maître d’Arts» who unveiled his bronze artworks translating the textures and vibrations of light, while addressing the infinity and immensity of life. Paintings were matched with wardrobes and cabinets, too. Such a stunning exhibition.
You deal with a few Italian designers, as well.
Right. We collaborate with Fornasetti, London and Borsani, just to name a few. I am fond of Italy and I had the chance to live in Milan for five years while attending university. Your country grows some truly special culture. You are so lucky!
Hadidas took care of the interiors, and were keen to leave one thing entirely untouched: Jones’ private elevator that connected all three floors of the building to the back parking area. Believe it or not, It is still floor-to-ceiling upholstered in the floral designer’s beloved animal print fabric.
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