In recent years, no pastry has been more sought after in Singapore than le macaron. Shops like TWG and Canele have fuelled macaron mania by creating a myriad of flavours but, for purists, there is only one brand worth the sugar rush – Laduree.
Widely acknowledged as the creator of the macaron, the French brand – whose shops worldwide are said to sell about 15,000 macarons a day – has finally come to Singapore. Its rock star-like fame had local devotees clamouring for its signature confectionery, the double-decker macaron with a cream filling invented back in 1930, as well as its teas and jams.
All the buzz bodes well for Laduree and its president, David Holder, the son of Francis Holder – founder of Groupe Holder, whose businesses include restaurant services like patisserie Paul and bread-and pastry-making services. The younger Holder, vice-chairman of the family company, regards Laduree, bought over by the group in 1993, as his baby.
Founded in 1862, Laduree maintained nothing more than a little bakery-cum-pastry shop in Rue Royale in Paris for well over a century. After it was bought over, the brand – whose gilded flagship boutique is now on the Champs-Elysees, with a tea room next door – exploded across France.
In 2005, the chain spread its wings globally. Today, it has 24 boutiques in Europe and 20 around the world, including its boutiques in the Asia-Pacific – three in Tokyo, two in Osaka and one each in Hong Kong, Nagoya, Seoul, Sydney and Singapore, a partnership between Laduree and The Hour Glass.
“Laduree created the macaron. That’s the difference between us and other brands,” says Holder, who has a degree in finance. And judging by the perpetual long queues outside its stores worldwide, it’s no empty boast.
“Laduree’s success is because we’ve stuck to the DNA of the originals. A great macaron starts from the basics. The raw ingredients we use are 100 per cent natural, and our recipes and processes have been distilled from the traditions handed down from over a hundred years ago,” he adds. To maintaining that gold standard, Laduree’s macarons are made in Paris, then air-flown overnight to different countries.
The other reason for its success is that “we keep Laduree fresh and new by developing new flavours every season, like fashion houses”, says Holder. “People also come to us because we communicate a lifestyle. A Laduree macaron is a piece of edible haute couture, and every detail, from the packaging to the shops’ decor, retains the key elements of the Parisian stores.”
Indeed, the shop in Ngee Ann City is a replica of the ones found in Paris. From its trademark mint-green facade and white marble and wood-floored interior to the ornate gold chandeliers hanging from the trompe l’oeil sky ceiling, it preserves the brand’s elegantly decadent and very Parisian sensibilities.
“Though there is no exclusive flavour for Singapore, we’ve come up with a packaging design for the country,” Holder reveals. He points to a box with the quintessential French image of the Eiffel Tower and that of an uber-chic woman walking her dog, juxtaposed against a delicate scrawl spelling “Singapore”.
Holder quips: “A beautiful woman, the Eiffel Tower and the macaron. What is more Parisian than that?”