- Marjorie van Elven |
Iconic department store Galeries Lafayette is bound to start a new chapter this Thursday, when it moves to the building formerly occupied by Virgin Megastore on Paris’ most famous avenue, Champs-Elysées. The company expects the new flagship to attract an average of 300,000 daily visitors, considering about 300,000 people walk on the avenue on weekdays and 500,000 people visit it on weekends.
Following the unveiling of the store’s logo and visual identity earlier this month, Galeries Lafayette has now released the first pictures of the new venue, which aims to offer “something midway between retail, services and entertainment”, in the words of its Executive Chairman Phillipe Houzé.
“Our company is currently undergoing an in-depth transformation designed to make it an omnichannel retail leader, a French fashion specialist and an international beacon”, said Nicolas Houzé, CEO of Galeries Lafayette and BHV Marais, in a statement, adding that the space will serve as a “retail laboratory” to test new ideas and respond to emerging consumer trends.
New Galeries Lafayette opens on March 28
Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the flagship spans over 6,500 square meters (approximately 70,000 square feet) which will be occupied by a “highly curated” assortment of 650 luxury fashion, accessories, beauty, lifestyle and food brands, some of which were previously unavailable in France.
The new retail space will also reveal a more technological Galeries Lafayette, as shoppers will be able to obtain information about each product’s availability thanks to a new patented technology called “smart hanger”. Additionally, a team of 300 personal stylists was hired to help customers before, during and after their visit through Galeries Lafayette’s new “Personal Stylist 2.0” app. Last but not least, the venue will feature a designated space for pop-up stores, a food court and a stage for artistic performances.
Founded over 100 years ago by cousins Théophile Bader and Alphonse Kahn as a small shop, Galeries Lafayette became a Parisian icon in 1896 when they bought the whole building at Rue de Lafayette, number 1. The location, next to the Opera and the Saint-Lazare railway station, was ideal for the “luxury bazaar” the duo wanted to create. Several other adjacent buildings were bought in subsequent years, turning it into the huge store we know today. In 2016, Galeries Lafayette was the second most-visited tourist attraction in Paris, second only to the Eiffel Tower. Bader dreamed of expanding the department store to Avenue Champs-Elysées and even purchased a building there in 1927, but the crisis of 1929 forced him to sell the building. The fifth generation of the family took it upon itself to make his dreams come true.
Pictures: courtesy of Galeries Lafayette