October 25, 2012

Shopping under a sparkling Dome

Feeling slightly under the weather this past week I decided to opt for a fairly easy cultural visit at La Galerie inside the famous department store Les Galeries Lafayette.

The most impressive feature is its soaring dome with a vast colourful glass cupola. The dome was designed by architect Ferdinand Chanut and was inaugurated in October 1912. It stands a mesmerizing 141 feet high and includes a pulley system that raises the store’s Christmas tree each winter. To celebrate the dome’s centenary, the flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann has unveiled a 21st-century façade.

Did you know that no less than 11 million foreigners come to visit the Haussmann store every year, and each client spends more than 1000 Euros there?

I was impressed to see that the entire shopping layout had changed and that one has access to the edge of the atrium and therefore can look up at the glowing stained-glass of master craftsman Jacques Gruber and the iron maker Louis Majorelle. Last time I visited the store I had to creep behind the clothes stalls to take my photos and was instantely told off by some defiant sales person not to venture behind the counters.

The exhibit at La Galerie “Chronicle of a Creative Itinerary,” showcases changes in fashion and retail over the last 100 years, highlighting the history through archival material including photographs, posters and films.

The feature “100 years under the dome 1912-2012” displays items by date around a circular, dome-like installation. My favourite part was the funky carpet selection.

 Eye-popping mix of carpet patterns, all taken from past examples in the store

A panoply of shopping history

A lineup of newspapers with the original Galeries Lafayette advertising 

Displaying items by date around a circular, dome-like installation

Qualities of our clients: chic, elegance, loyalty, good taste, economy, order, attention

"If you haven't seen the Galeries Lafayettes, you haven't seen Paris!"

Staff instructions from 1912: It is FORBIDDEN to sell to foreigners unless they speak French. In this case ask for a translator at the main entrance.

So true!

Time to head home ... where's the elevator boy?

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