PARIS – Armani Beauty has just opened a new high-tech, high-touch global flagship, called Armonia, in Shenzhen, China.
Located in the One Avenue Mall, the immersive 3,230 square foot retail space is meant to spark and reflect harmony – harmony, in Italian – and conscious beauty. These are at the heart of the luxury brand’s identity and raison d’être, according to Véronique Gautier, global president of Armani Beauty, at L’Oréal.
“[Armani’s] natural sophistication allows you to reveal who you are – that inner self, that inner power,” she said.
For the flagship, the brand designed many new ways for people to disconnect from the hubbub of everyday life and reconnect with themselves. The idea is for them to find their own energy, balance inner and outer light, and create a sense of harmony with the world.
Shenzhen was chosen as the location since it is the technology capital of China. The city is also full of wealthy young people, so it was fitting to launch the new retail experience there.
“It pushed us to innovate,” said Gautier.
When people approach Armonia, they see an imposing digital facade with moving images. Then inside, people walk down a hallway, where they can participate in three rituals.
There is a “water ritual”, in which they say aloud the motto of their choice, and which is written in water; a “scented stone” ritual, to help reveal their emotions, and a “light ritual”, intended to reveal their energy.
“Step by step, you have your harmony diagnosis,” Gautier said.
This ultimate diagnosis can be found in a mini WeChat program, accessible by scanning a QR code at the entrance to Armonia. The diagnosis suggests a path the person can take through the store, or “harmony profile”, as well as a unique piece of digital art. This art, in the real world, can be used as a template on in-store gift wrap.
Armonia was designed as an offline and online experience. “There’s a completely seamless journey,” Gautier said.
Go deeper inside the flagship and you’ll discover the Red River, a conveyor belt of Armani makeup, fragrance and skincare, including iconic products such as Power Fabric Foundation, Lip Maestro, Eyes to Kill , Acqua di Giò, Armani Code, Sì, My Way and Crema Nera.
“We built a harmony of products on small plates that offered stories – mixing, for example, a glow story, a Christmas look story,” Gautier said.
Products from different categories are presented together here and people can try out rituals and looks.
The Precision Lab focuses on skincare and offers people the opportunity to have one-on-one consultations at skincare stations or attend master classes. They can also try Meta Sculpt facial massage with Crema Nera.
The Emotion Lab offers an experience where people using calligraphy brushes and ink are invited to draw their emotions on an interactive screen, which shows which Armani Privé fragrances are in tune with their mood. Those who wish can also consult assistants to discover the line of perfumes and have designs printed on the Privé bottles.
The Light Lab experience involves consulting under different types of lighting to achieve makeup. People receive a photo of themselves in the look – which can be saved to the WeChat program – which shows how their makeup looks in different lights.
At a gift station, visitors can have their wares wrapped with custom-patterned furoshiki fabric, created from recycled textiles.
Through the WeChat program, Chinese people can book a one-on-one consultation at one of three labs, join Armani’s Signature VIP loyalty program, and access the Armani beauty online store.
Armonia also has a green theme. It has earned LEED Platinum certification, the highest level, from the US Green Building Council, or USGBC, which gives the most widely used green building rating system.
Creating elements of surprise was key to designing the sleek store, according to Gautier.
“We wanted something impactful, simple and very strong in terms of design,” she said.
Armonia, which will officially open on December 22, is like a laboratory for Armani, which tests new experiences for consumers there.
The same concept will open on the Chinese island of Hainan in the first quarter of next year, and elements of Armonia could be incorporated as Armani Beauty’s smaller retail spaces are upgraded around the world. . The brand’s last in-store makeovers came six years ago.
China is a major growth engine for Armani, which has 130 counters in the country. There, the brand ranks fourth in make-up; seventh in fragrance, and is in the top 10 for skincare, according to Gautier.
“We have strong brand awareness and success in China,” she said.