From Marie Antoinette’s powdered wig to Coco Chanel’s little black dress, Paris has always been the hub of fashion. The Parisian fashion world—the pinnacle for fashion designers, models and anyone interested in what colors are a must-have for fall—has dominated in all things couture. So, in 1893 when a pair of entrepreneurs decided to open up a fashion store at the heart of the fashion industry, the outcome would be one of the world’s premier department stores with the same mythical wonderment and glamorous awe to rival London’s iconic Harrods and New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue.
The Galeries Lafayette began as a little shop on the corner of rue La Fayette and rue de la Chaussee d’ Antin, then grew with the purchase of the shop’s building and others nearby. Yet, such new and open space tempted the ambitious owners to design a flagship store whose impressive décor would match the artistic reputation of Paris itself. Taking a page from the play book of one Monsieur Gustave Eiffel, the commissioning designer saw the creative and glamorous possibilities in manipulating cast iron and set to work on creating an astonishing 10 story cylindrical space topped by a dome of gorgeous colored glass and steel. Amongst its now 96 departments, which range from haberdashery to travel items, is a hair salon, a café and a library, and it includes jaw-dropping views of its designer’s main source of inspiration, the Eiffel Tower—no purchase necessary. –Nicole Ellul
The Galeries Lafayette
40, boulevard Haussmann
+ 01 42 82 34 56