In the waning big store culture and the declining luxury of the stores on the Champs Elysees, a bright, new star has emerged.
The Galeries Lafayette has taken a big gamble in restoring luxury retail to Champs Elysees by opening a state-of-the-art retail model for the future. Located in the now defunct Virgin Records store, Galeries Lafayette Champs Elysees has gutted and completely refurbished the Art Deco jewel originally built in the 1930s. Ironically, in 1927 the founder of Galeries Lafayette, Théophile Bader, bought a hotel on the Champs Elysees with a dream of launching a new branch of the store, but the 1929 crash crushed his ambitious project. Fast forward 92 years later and the new generation of the Galeries Lafayette family is fulfilling Bader’s dream.
Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has successfully retained the Art Deco bones of the building while putting his contemporary spin on the 700,000-square-foot, four-story structure. In working with the store’s managing director, Ingels has created a 360-degree, fluid interior with few walls or impediments.
The first floor shows off the building's sweeping, restored marble staircase, along with a slick cosmetics and beauty department. A truncated replica of the lower portion of the Eiffel Tower climbs to the second floor, with a temporary display dedicated to Karl Lagerfeld and his designs for Chanel.
High-styled handbags, shoes and clothing fill most of the second floor. Although many standard luxury brands are stocked, including Chanel, Saint Laurent, Gucci and Balenciaga, there’s an impressive array of cutting edge, less mainstream labels, such as Marni, Craig Green, Sacai, JW Andersen and By Far, as well as an exclusive collection designed for the store by Rei Kawakubo under her Commes des Garcons label. The range of the brands for the men’s fashion department is equally as impressive as the women’s. In keeping up with the digital age, certain garments have digitally monitored hangers, which tell the customer what other sizes are in stock of the same garment, the price, and instructions directing the customer to the nearest fitting room. The sales staff can process a sale on the spot without the customer having to go to a separate line to pay.
The main restaurant of the store, Citron, is on the second floor and is a collaboration between cult fashion designer Jacquemus and restaurant group Kaspia. The Provence-inspired restaurant serves Mediterranean fare, and lemon trees decorate the dining area.
On the lower level is a culinary paradise with food stalls offering delicacies from some of the top chefs and chocolate and pastry makers in France. Vendors include Alain Ducasse chocolate, confections from La Mere de La Famille, exotic pates from Maison Verot, and the only outside branch of the oldest gourmet shop in Paris, Stohrer.
Other high-profile brands are also betting on the Champs Elysees to lure the Millennial luxury consumer with store openings from Christian Dior Couture and Longchamp, plus a So by Sofitel Hotel.
Galeries Lafayette Champs Elysees
60 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008