“I was educated through my parents’ eyes,” says Meryl Hadida Shabani. A French design heiress of sorts, she’s the daughter of Martine and Armand Hadida, who launched the tony Leclaireur fashion boutiques in Paris in 1980 and regularly took their four children on flea-market scouts and showroom buying appointments during Paris Fashion Week. Early on the concept-shop scene, the Hadidas made a name for spotting emerging fashion talent and mixing clothing, accessories, furnishings and art in spaces with unique architectural elements. This month, the West Hollywood location — the first in the U.S. and the only art-and furniture-focused Leclaireur — celebrates its two-year anniversary.
“It’s a family affair — we curate everything together,” says Hadida Shabani, who spearheads the West Hollywood store. “I might be drawn to something and my parents won’t be, or the other way around, but we discuss it and introduce the history and the story. It’s always about the message, not just the aesthetics, and very rarely do we disagree. This is our first official design gallery, after having a small one at the Paris flea market for three years. My parents have done fashion in Paris for such a long time that we wanted to break free of that in L.A. because people here don’t dress up as much. It’s more casual, and there aren’t really seasons.”
So why Los Angeles versus New York? In a word: love. Hadida Shabani relocated from Paris to L.A. six years ago for now-husband Michael Shabani, a commercial real-estate investor. “And New York is already New York,” she says. “The market is saturated, while here it’s just starting to blossom. This project might be avant-garde, but we love a good challenge, and what’s the point of showing things that people already know about?”
Leclaireur has long kindled a close relationship with famed Italian design house Fornasetti, known for ceramics and furnishings decorated with ornate surrealistic illustrations, and the L.A. shop boasts the largest Fornasetti collection in the U.S., including hard-to-find chairs and cabinets. “Fornasetti was a big bet here, but it’s colorful and fun, not too serious, yet very sought-after and created in limited amounts,” she says. “People here love the fact that it’s exclusive. They want something that nobody else can have.” Designer collaborations by Italian company Ghidini 1961, with signature die-cast brass and metal accents, are another important U.S. exclusive.
The L.A. shop’s overall aesthetic is a mix of contemporary and 1970s-era pieces, with a heavy dose of Belgian design. “It just came naturally that we were drawn to that,” notes Hadida Shabani. “We didn’t even realize it until we started giving tours of the space.”
There are arty lacquered surfboards by L.A.-based artist Tomoyuki Iwanami, crafted with traditional Japanese techniques, and hand-blown signed-and-dated Murano glassware with gold leaf and bird motifs by French artist Aristide Najean. Seventies finds include numbered and limited-reedition archival ceramic bird figurines and vases by Aldo Londi for Florence-based heritage company Bitossi Ceramiche created exclusively for Leclaireur; pyrite-bedecked slate tables by Belgian designer Pia Manu; and sculptural limited-edition tables by Ado Chale and Philippe Hiquily.
Many pieces reference nature, such as Atelier Von Pelt’s limited-edition colored Meteorite tables in resin and fiberglass that mimic natural crystals. “The artist is a nature defender, who doesn’t want to damage the landscape, so she creates these to inspire people,” says Hadida Shabani. In a similar vein, contemporary Belgian artist Arne Quinze crafts nest-like sculptures from colorful metal strips; his trademark use of humble materials and public art installations are moves to help democratize art.
Despite Hadida Shabani’s protests, the West Hollywood location doesn’t exactly eschew fashion, with two under-the-radar cult brands that can’t be found anywhere else in the U.S. Top of the line are exquisite, small-batch alligator jackets by Parisian designer Isaac Sellam. Also on display are a collection of high-top sneakers and boots with soles that appear to be dripping rubber; leather jackets with padded “prosthetic” elbow detailing; and trousers, shirting and jackets with visibly pronounced hand-stitching and thermal glued seaming by edgy Milan-based designer Carol Christian Poel.
To top it off, the third floor of Leclaireur has a kitted-out custom kitchen and an expansive dining table—the heart of any space, according to Hadida Shabani—and can be rented out for events. “We’re French, but my father’s Moroccan, and we have a big Italian influence in the family so in the end it’s always about what we’re eating and drinking,” she says with a smile.
Leclaireur, 450 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 360-0262; leclaireur.com