Laure Heriard Dubreuil splits her time between New York and Miami, where six year ago she opened The Webster, a high-end fashion boutique in historic South Beach. She first came to the United States 14 years ago to study at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, then returned to her native France—her family founded the Rémy Martin cognac—to work for Balenciaga.
With The Webster, she has managed to pull off not one but two impressive coups: bringing impeccably curated European fashion to Miami, a city best known for its over-the-top glitz, and creating an artist hot spot in the city that survives year-round, not just during Art Basel Miami Beach. Her fiancé, Aaron Young, is an enormously in-demand young artist, best known for his macho canvases and the performance he did at the Park Avenue Armory where he used speeding motorcycles to create a giant painting. To get an insider’s take on the Miami art scene, Artspace editor-in-chief Andrew M. Goldstein about art, fashion, and the connections between the two.
When did you first become interested in art, and why?
I became interested in art because my parents initiated it to me. Growing up they often brought me to museums, exhibitions. It shaped my taste, seeing art I like or did not like or at least trying to understand it was part of my education.
What do you collect yourself?
I started collecting as soon as I could save-up some money. I own pieces by Ryan McGinley, Ed Ruscha, and Aaron Young, of course! And now he and I share pieces from our friends, great artists like Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, and Terry Richardson. Having studied Mandarin for eight years, I am very interested in contemporary Chinese artists as well. I am definitely eager to see the Rubell Family Collection show, "28 Chinese.”
What do you look for in contemporary art?
I enjoy contemporary art with my eyes and heart, it has to move me, to provoke something in me. I keep on staring at the pieces we have at home. Great art always has something more to tell, every day. And I am very fortunate because Aaron is the perfect teacher.
How has your fiancé changed the way you view art?
I was sensitive to art because of my upbringing and my constant search for beauty, in all its forms, but I was a neophyte when I met him. He has an artist’s eye, and I did not have the same understanding and trained eye that I have gained thanks to him. He knows so much about art history, he understands the artists and is so sensitive to the meaning and symbolism behind the work, so the interaction becomes very personal, and touches you in a different way. I love to go see shows with him.
How do you see art and fashion relating at the Webster, and beyond?
We host shows—we are mounting a show of Dennis Hopper photographs during Basel. But art and fashion have so many connections. Fashion is an art form—you see it in museums in Paris, NY, even Chile. Creative people, no matter their specific line of work, are sensitive to aesthetics, and they seek out each other, so it is normal that the two worlds collide. The Webster happens to be in the perfect location at the right time so it gathered a crowd of aficionados. They may have discovered it during Basel but they are now coming all year long.
What was the original inspiration for your boutique?
I decided to move to Miami and open the Webster because of the weather, the proximity to South-America, and the amazing opportunity of a mostly untouched market. In terms of design, we stayed true to the architecture’s Art Deco beauty, which is the soul of South-beach. The Webster is a historical building built by Henry Hohauser in 1939. We just added some luxurious touches, a warm and cozy feel, vintage wallpapers, beautiful furniture, contemporary art, and a bit of my parisian sensibility.
What do you make of the Miami art scene these days?
The art scene is very prolific, thanks in part to an influx of Cuban and South-American influences. Local patrons have helped a lot by setting up residencies, bringing in great artists from all over the world. Art Basel helped putting Miami on the art map, and it remains the main event, even now attracting more and more people every year, bringing in an ever more international audience.
With Art Basel descending on the city this week, what are you most looking forward to?
The list is so long. Tracey Emin at MOCA. The main fair, of course—especially the booths by Bortolami, Massimo de Carlo, and Almine Rech, who represent Aaron—as well as Design Miami, Scope, Nada, and Pulse. The Untitled fair at Nathalie Karg/Cumulus Studios. Temporary shows like "VIP Party", an installation by Jim Drain and Bhakti Baxter in Miami Harbour, and "Curiosity", a floating chalet by Kolkoz on the tropical Miami sea. And Adam Lindemann's vehicular art show "Car Park.” Making a permanent impact is the opening of the Perez Art Museum designed by Herzog and De Meuron in a park between Biscayne Bay and the city with an amazing vertical garden. And there are the local Galleries: I like the ”Banter" exhibition curated by James Cope at Diet Gallery with works by Borden Caplino, Marianne Eigenheer, Brian Fridge, Nicolas Lobo, Nathalie Provosty, and Cordy Ryman. The Marina Abramovic / Visionnaire screening. Charlotte Perriand’s 1934 "La Maison au Bord de L'eau" being shown thanks to Louis Vuitton.
What advice do you have for newcomers to the week's festivities? Any inside tips?
Do your research in advance, and narrow it down, even if that is a challenge with so many amazing pieces to see. You can't see everything, and you need to take time to appreciate the art you've selecte.. Don't forget to enjoy the beauty of Miami, the sunshine and the beach in between shows—or shopping at The Webster.
What projects do you have in the works?
I have two big “babies” coming-up very soon: We are just opening our second Webster outpost in the Bal Harbor shops. And Aaron and I are expecting our first child due in the next weeks!