Most kids play dress-up for fun. But it’s how Laure Hériard Dubreuil, founder and CEO of luxury boutique The Webster, found her calling. “Since I was very little, I liked to dress my siblings—I enjoyed the process of putting looks together,” says the eldest of four, raised in Paris and part of the storied family that produces Rémy Martin cognac. She originally studied economics and Mandarin at the Paris Dauphine University but was drawn to the editing and curation aspects of fashion.
After graduating from FIT, Hériard Dubreuil, Advertising and Marketing Communications ’01, worked in merchandising for Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. During an autumn trip to New York, she took a last-minute jaunt to Art Basel Miami Beach with only winter clothes in her luggage—nothing appropriate for parties in balmy weather. Though the city was “bubbling,” the aughts shopping scene was “sleepy,” she says. “There was nothing fashion-forward or edgy.”
She spotted an opportunity. “Art Basel was bringing this ultra-sophisticated international crowd … it was the right time.” In 2007, she moved to Miami, buying and renovating a historic South Beach building (once a hotel called The Webster) that was originally designed by Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser. In 2009, Hériard Dubreuil opened her first store in that building and named it for the hotel. It still has a hotel facade, so passersby can’t tell it’s a store at first glance. But “this ‘secret’ location brings some of the magic,” she says.
The store, “meant to feel like a safe haven where you can express yourself,” is luxurious (of course) with an eclectic yet comforting aesthetic. There’s vintage wallpaper, contemporary art, terrazzo floors, furniture from a mix of decades, and a fireplace mantel. Hériard Dubreuil also included nods to Miami—flamingo-pink accents and the store’s signature tropical orange-blossom scent, which shoppers can bring home as a candle or room spray.
The Webster is stocked with must-have labels for those who crave “timeless pieces, but who are also daring and want to make an entrance,” Hériard Dubreuil says. Since opening, she’s expanded from women’s, men’s, and children’s wear to include home and beauty.
Alongside Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent live more contemporary brands like Amina Muaddi, Jacquemus, and Off-White. But Hériard Dubreuil doesn’t merchandise by brand label. “Every brand is here for a reason, and no brand is put above another.” Instead, she mixes them together, often sorted by color story. “It’s exciting but also relaxes the eye,” she says.
As of early 2023, The Webster has 10 stores, including in Los Angeles (where Hériard Dubreuil now lives), New York, and Toronto—her first international location. Though the assortments vary based on the locale, each store shares design DNA with the South Beach flagship. For example, the LA location, opened in 2020 and designed by architect David Adjaye, is constructed in striking pink concrete. The Webster also has an online store, which accounts for about 30% of sales.
With a roster of exclusive brand names and desirable locations, it’s no surprise celebrities flock to The Webster. Once, Rihanna stopped by the South Beach flagship between flights and ended up staying the whole day. “We celebrated her bodyguard’s birthday,” Hériard Dubreuil says.
The Webster has collaborated with other stores (Lane Crawford, Target)—and brands (Diesel for spring 2023 New York Fashion Week). But Hériard Dubreuil has also influenced fashion’s biggest night out. Upon viewing the mostly black fall 2013 collection by another collaborator, Anthony Vaccarello, she suggested he make a few dresses in red. “He could have thrown me out the window, but he loved the idea,” she says. A few months later, model Anja Rubik sported one of those red dresses at the Met Gala.