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A new store on Paris’ Champs-Élysées from France’s leading department store operator seeks to put distance between its own outposts and those of others

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French department store operator Galeries Lafayette (Paris) has opened a new store on the iconic Champs-Élysées in Paris that is quite unlike its Boulevard Haussmann flagship that’s a little more than a mile away.

The new store trades from 70,000 square feet and five floors (a fraction of the nearby behemoth which has a selling area of nearly 786,000 square feet) and is in an art deco style building. Once owned by the retailer’s founder until 1929, the financial crash forced its sale.

Shoppers heading into the store have an experience from the moment they cross the threshold. BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group; Copenhagen and New York), which designed the interior, has fashioned a wholly back-lit square tunnel given form by intersecting geometric black lines. It’s a little like entering a portal, the kind found in low budget sci-fi movies, but in this instance, it takes the shopper, perhaps, into another dimension.

Inside, it’s the architecture that dominates with a marble atrium affording views of all floors and taking the gaze towards the ceiling where four large glass cubes are suspended over the void.

This store has no external windows and so, according to Alexandra Van Weddingen, Director of Corporate Communications, Galeries Lafayette, these are “internal windows,” devices to focus the eye on the store’s upper levels. They also act as showcases for the heady mix of contemporary brands that set the store apart from its big sister, and have helped in the business of getting luxury names to agree to have their offers displayed on the higher floors.

All is organized around the atrium and whichever floor the shopper chooses to inspect will lead inevitably to a balustrade creating the perfect spot for dwelling and people watching. The fixturing is highly contemporary and, among other things, tech has been deployed in the shape of garment hangers that inform a shopper whether a desired color and size is available in the stockroom.

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And, this is Paris, so the atrium comes equipped with a 2-D Eiffel Tower that extends from floor to ceiling and against which mannequins are positioned.

The basement is the only enclosed area and is home to a casual dining restaurant. This is “The Food Court,” although it is very different from the mall food court with which most readers will be familiar.

In total, this is a store for young, affluent, contemporary shoppers, and it does a job that no other in the City of Light does currently. Bon chance!

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