Interview: Harrods’ Beauty Director On Adapting Beauty Retail For A Digital Age

BY Delara Zand / Jun 13 2019 / 20:05 PM

Harrods' Beauty Hall has had a makeover and you're going to want to see it

Interview: Harrods’ Beauty Director On Adapting Beauty Retail For A Digital Age
Courtesy of Harrods

Earlier this week, Harrods' much-anticipated new Beauty Hall opened its doors to the public, unveiling state-of-the-art spaces for world-famous names like Chanel, Tom Ford and makeup newcomer Gucci, as well as boutiques housing niche new additions to the iconic's department store's cosmetics portfolio. Following developments in the makeup and fragrance departments, the expansion of areas dedicated to skincare and bespoke beauty services in the upcoming months will set the London department store on track to become a leading global beauty desintation. The brains behind the project, Harrods' Director of Beauty Annalise Fard, talks us through beauty innovations at the store, explains why she's proud to be a part of Harrods' legacy and shares some of her own skincare secrets. 

Harper's Bazaar Arabia: What do you hope to achieve with the relaunched Beauty Hall?

Annalise Fard: When you really start to study our industry, you'll find that there have been more changes in the last five years than in the last fifty. Clients engage with content differently. They have a different understanding of beauty. The nature of their demands is different; they want it fast and they want it now. Digital platforms have evolved and facilitate the appeal of the influencer. I started to challenge myself and think, what’s actually changed in retail? In comparison, very little. I wanted to bring all of the excitement and innovation happening in the beauty world into a retail environment.

I want the new beauty space to feel very approachable, as though you’re inviting guests into your home rather than clients into a store. I want it to feel like you’ve had time to breathe and take everything in - I walk across some beauty halls and feel like I’m running the gauntlet. You’re literally like, 'I know I want to get to that brand, but I have to be careful how I get there because I know they’re going to pounce on me...' I didn’t want that at all. On one hand, I wanted space to breathe and take a moment, but on the other hand to have these immersive brand experiences.

Since part of our building is National Heritage-listed, there was an additional challenge of being unable to create walls, so we had to come up with this clever architecture that’s all about beautiful champagne-metal and glass - providing an immersive experience whilst maintaining an open-plan layout. I also wanted the brands to bring something unique: exclusive products, exceptional experiences, individual environments. We challenged our partners with the question: what does your brand mean at Harrods? There are some really nice examples where they’ve come up with completely bespoke, new arenas.

Courtesy of Harrods

HBA: Are there any brands you’re particularly excited to welcome to Harrods?

AF: I’m incredibly excited to welcome Anastasia Beverly Hills in two weeks’ time. It’s a brand that I personally love, and would typically go off to Sephora and buy. We’re also launching an Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Bar in our Hair and Beauty Salon. In terms of the new brand portfolio, I love perfumery Fueguia, from Patagonia. They have over fifty scents, and there’s not one that I haven’t smelled and gone, 'Wow, that’s amazing’.

A brand like Becca, which has some of the best illuminating products, is new to Harrods in the Powder Room. They’re working with us on creating influencer boxes, and the only place you’ll be able to buy them is Harrods. They may be limited edition, but they’ll give a very personal-to-the-client feel. That spirit of individuality is another theme running through the boutiques. As far as I'm concerned, customisation and personalisation should be everyday life - you picked your perfect lipstick, why not pick have your own little message on it, or choose a personalised case? Whether it’s La Bouche Rouge or Givenchy, we have all these opportunities to customise. 

La Bouche Rouge

Courtesy of Harrods

HBA: This is the first phase in a three-part renovation. What will the next two entail?

AF: If the design concept for the beauty space is the wing of a grand manor, we’ve got the powder room, the staircase, the library...our refurbished Skincare Hall will become the orangery. Launching in mid-September, it's going to have huge skylights, marble pillars, botanical touches like gold leaves scaling the will almost be like the outside coming in. The hall will house some of our best-established skincare brands that are really at the heart of what we do at Harrods - the likes of La Mer, Sisley and La Prairie. They’ll be sharing a space with doctor brands like Perricone and 111SKIN. We’ll also have an icons wall, celebrating individual products from key brands - think GlamGlow's mud mask or Rodin's face oil. 

The final phase is a treatment zone that's going to be entirely brand-led - involving names like La Mer, Sisley, Chanel and Dior. It's going to be all about product on skin, rather than tools or machines, in signature high-touch Harrods style.

We’ll also have a beauty concierge to meet all your beauty needs. Imagine: you’ve just had a cancellation of appointment, it has rained outside and you’re a bit jetlagged. You need a quick blowdry and something to pick you up. No problem! We can schedule in a blowdry in our Hair and Beauty Salon, book you a Vitamin Infusion in our Wellness Clinic, and give you details of a masterclass that's going on. A one-stop shop. Or you might come in and say, 'I love mascara and I want to try something new.' They won’t just give you the best out there, but the best for you.

There will also be two new masterclass spaces. One is more intimate, for around ten guests, where you can have a play with the product. The other is an event auditorium, seating around thirty, where you can live-interact, via video conference, with anyone around the world. It could be a chemist in Switzerland, a makeup artist at the Dior Backstage show. They can talk directly to our clients and answer questions. Imagine Charlotte Tilbury facetiming from Ibiza about her latest launch?! 

I’m passionate about this store. It’s iconic, it has incredible heritage. I want to see clients enjoy it for many years to come. We want it to touch people around the world. It’s about thinking globally, but acting locally.

Annalise Fard

Courtesy of Harrods

HBA: You started at Harrods, spent time working at Bliss, then returned to Harrods. What does Harrods represent to you?

AF: I loved Bliss. Bliss marked my entrepreneurial days: it was a start-up at the time. But I’m a retailer at heart. I get to hear from and interact with my clients every day at Harrods. I’m lucky enough that I have an office here and can be on the shop floor within seconds. I also love its iconic status - I’m looking after a part of Harrods for a small period of time. No matter how long I’m here, it’s only a small moment in its history. I’m very conscious of taking good care of it for the future. I spent a lot of time looking at archives, understanding what this floor looked like in the ‘20s and ‘30s, what beauty looked like, what was hot and exciting. It makes me smile to think that in 100 years from now, someone else could be doing the same. It has always been about  Harrods innovating, being modern and being forward-thinking. 

Gucci Beauty

Courtesy of Harrods

HBA: You oversee beauty, fine jewellery and watches and fashion accessories. What ties those categories together?

AF: They’re all the things that men and women love. They can make you look and feel better instantly. What I love about a lipstick, a watch, a ring or an iconic bag is that it can finish an outfit and make you feel fabulous. I like categories where there’s an emotional connection. It’s uplifting buying these products, particularly in an environment that adds value to the purhcase.

HBA: What’s your daily skincare regime?

AF: I have a morning and an evening routine. I have combination skin, so I like to cleanse a lot. I use two cleansers - one is more an ammonium, and the other is slightly more exfoliating. I overscrub...I use a physical exfoliator with beads every morning. I use two face serums, an eye serum, an eye cream and a face moisturiser. I mix and change products, although I do have some that I really like - a Sarah Chapman cleanser, for example. The serums I use can vary by season. 

HBA: You’re on a desert island and you can take three beauty products...

AF: I’m assuming that I’ve had my lashes done already...a concealer, a lipbalm and a mascara. I can do my eyebrows with the mascara!