NEW DIGS: A date has been set for the opening of the new Galeries Lafayette store on the Champs-Elysées: March 28.
The sprawling space, which was built for an American bank in the Thirties, has undergone a three-year renovation led by Bjarke Ingels Group, which is known for designing Google’s futuristic head office in Silicon Valley. Spreading over nearly 70,000 square feet, it will be the largest store on the Champs-Elysées, already home to an array of flagships for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Apple, Nike, Louis Vuitton and Adidas.
With the rise of digital commerce, retail’s era of bold expansion has yielded to a more disciplined focus on fewer, more select locations. This has led to a surge in interest — and property prices — on the Champs-Elysées. Billed as the French capital’s grandest avenue, the street also has also been the scene of violent clashes between “yellow vest” protestors and police in recent months.
In securing a foothold on the world-famous strip, Galeries Lafayette is realizing a decades-old dream. The economic crisis of 1929 put a stop to efforts by an ancestor of the Houzé family — which controls the Paris department store chain — to build a store there.
As reported, Galeries chief executive officer Nicolas Houzé gave store director Nadia Dhouib carte blanche to imagine the store’s concept.
Galeries Lafayette has been actively reinventing the traditional department store model, engaging in a flurry of revamps that includes remaking the neighborhood surrounding its BHV department store with its art foundation Lafayette Anticipations and, coming soon, the first French outposts of culinary mecca Eataly. It has also acquired online platforms, expanded abroad and sold off regional stores.