It’s not every day you turn 150.
After the pandemic waylaid its reopening in 2020, landmark Parisian department store La Samaritaine is pulling out all the stops as they turn 150+1, celebrating the milestone with a birthday event running from Sept. 2 to Oct. 31.
Festivities will begin on Sept. 2 with the unveiling of the department store’s windows. On the Rivoli side, displays will feature multicolored neon installations, while four windows on the Pont Neuf will be turned over to Prada. They will showcase a tridimensional trompe-l’oeil inspired by the label’s fall 2021 runway decor blended with the light displays of its Parisian host.
Inside, the Prada Glow pop-up will offer an interactive video floor area, connected to a lantern shaped like the Italian brand’s logo that will rise in the middle of the atrium and change colors regularly. A selection of exclusive items such as a purple-toned Cleo bag, a black ReNylon bomber jacket with a sequined pocket and a bubblegum pink kid-leather version spotted on the men’s runway but available here for women will be offered up.
A 2-meter-tall, seven-layer cake will be exhibited on the ground floor of the building on Rue de Rivoli. Imagined by French artist Elsa Muse, its design was inspired by an early animation device called a zoetrope, which had its heyday around La Samaritaine’s 1870 birth date.
Topped with figures representing founders Ernest and Marie-Louise Cognacq-Jaÿ, the cake figures key elements of the store’s visual identity including its yellow shopping bags, Parisian street lamps and the iconic peacock seen in its famous Art Nouveau mural. A stop motion film bringing it all alive will be released on social media platforms.
While this particular confection will be made of sugar paste, slices of edible versions will be given out to a lucky few every Saturday at 4 p.m. Miniature versions will also be available for purchase, made by buzzy cake makers Bogato.
In the digital world, art historian Margaux Brugvin will take over the department store’s YouTube channel for episodes focusing on surprising moments in the store’s history and a talk with contemporary artist Antonin Hako on its links to art.
Every weekend will be marked with special events, such as a parade on Sept. 4 and 5, featuring performers dressed in costumes inspired by iconic elements of La Samaritaine, from the peacock to majorettes taken from a vintage advertising film. They’ll make appearances throughout the celebrations at other moments.
A wheel of fortune, located near the concierge service and activated by bar codes found on receipts, will give customers the opportunity to win gifts, ranging from bicycles in the store’s yellow and gray livery — available on its e-commerce for 790 euros — to copies of the Assouline book tracing its history and a selection of tasty treats from the food and beverage brands available in store.
To remember the occasion, there will be souvenir tote bags in the birthday event’s pastel palette and more achingly cute-cool Parisian tchotchkes at the “Boutique de Loulou.” A cake and cocktail kit imagined by Matthias Giroud, the mixologist of seventh-floor bar-restaurant Voyage, and Maison Dalloyau pastry chef Jérémy Del Val, will be available at 25 euros for those who want to have their cake and eat it, too.