It hit her during a blustery winter downpour in Paris in 2007. Laure Heriard Dubreuil, a French-born Fashion Institute of Technology-trained then-merchandiser for Yves Saint Laurent, was impatiently sitting in traffic watching sleet come down when she decided she’d had her fill of sunless, cold days. It was time, she thought, to bid adieu to France. So a year later she made her way across the Atlantic Ocean with the hope of opening a store somewhere sunny. She landed in Miami Beach. “At that time, in Miami, there were no fashion stores other than the ones in Bal Harbour,” says Heriard Dubreuil, now the CEO of South Beach’s The Webster, a three-level style emporium on Collins Avenue that stands as an elegant homage to all things chic. “It was an opportunity,” she says, her English still peppered with French inflections, “a niche that was available—with sunshine.”
The light has been shining on her ever since. Though she launched the 20,000-square-foot store in the wake of the recession that hit Florida hard, The Webster’s success has been nothing short of impressive. While Heriard Dubreuil says her involvement with prestigious art festival Art Basel, the resurgence of newly built South Beach hotels and an influx of well-heeled South American tourists have gone a long way toward attracting customers, she also knows a large part of it is—well—her. “I felt I was the ambassador of Miami,” says the 35-year-old Heriard Dubreuil, who still jets off every other month to New York, Paris, Milan or London in pursuit of high-end threads. “I felt I was spreading the sunshine and love everywhere I went.”
Apparently that sunshine and love even reached Minnesota, where buyers at Target headquarters last year were in search of stylish specialty boutiques to partner with to create The Shops at Target, an exclusive capsule line the mega-chain launched earlier this year. The Webster was one of five boutiques selected to participate and, through the 250-piece collection she developed with Target designers, Heriard Dubreuil took her brand nationwide.
Today, the South Beach store is home to 90 brands for men and women, from the iconic Chanel to newer U.S.-based labels such as Rag & Bone as well as local Miami designers. Heriard Dubreuil also has enough juice in the fashion world that design houses often create exclusive pieces for The Webster. And while she’s constantly following the most important trends, she also values timeless, transcendental style. “I am not buying for Miami,” she explains. “I know people want to wear the clothes instantly, but I want them to also be able to wear them anywhere they are in the world.”
Heriard Dubreuil invited Indulge into The Webster, which is designed to feel like you are walking through your own personal closet. And what a closet it is!
The Webster, 1220 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, 305-674-7899; thewebstermiami.com