Paris' Iconic Galeries Lafayette through Vintage Photos, Posters and Ads

 Les Galeries Lafayette Print from 1912

I recently acquired a beautiful original 1923 Art Déco poster advertising the iconic Parisian department store, Galeries Lafayette. It features a high-heeled elegant lady sitting literarily on top of the world bragging about the store's successes using flowing ribbons (you can check out the further below). This has inspired me to take a look at the spectacular history of the store and see what other interesting advertisements, posters and other graphics I could dig up. 

The swanky Paris department store has played a major contribution in establishing Paris' image as one of the fashion capitals of the world. It all started in 1893, when two cousins from the Alsace decided to open a shop selling novelty items in a small shop, measuring just 70 m2, on the corner of rue La Fayette and rue de la Chaussée d’Antin in Paris. 3 years later, deciding to gamble on the small shop's early success they aggressively expanded along rue Lafayette and the surrounding streets.

Postcard: Les Galeries Lafayette, Vue des Magasines (View of the Store) 1900s

Postcard: Les Galeries Lafayette, Comptoir de la Ganterie (Glove Counter), 1900s

"The flagship Galeries Lafayette store was unveiled in all its glory at its inauguration in October 1912. Théophile Bader dreamed of creating a “luxury bazaar” where the sheer abundance and luxury of the merchandise on offer would wow the crowds! Golden light, filtered through the domed roof, would flood the grand hall and set the products aglow. The gamble had paid off."

The magnificent building wasdecorated in the style of Paris Art Nouveau. The banister of the magnificent staircase was inspired by the Paris Opera House. The dome, rising to a height of 43 metres, soon became the iconic symbol of Galeries Lafayette. Every detail was breathtaking, for example the Neo-byzantine style stained glass windows or the exquisite ironwork featured on the balconies. Shopping was becoming a leisure activity as the monied class grew in size and wealth. At the very top of the building, the rooftop terrace offered a panoramic view of Paris. The store began organising special events much to the delight of an entertainment-hungry clientèle, including the now famous rooftop landing by Jules Védrines in 1919. The aviator was fined for flying too low over Paris, but gained lifelong notoriety as the first ever rebel in aviation history. (Check out Messy Nessy Chicks blog post titled, The 1930s Rooftop Aviation School of Galeries Lafayette, Paris for more info on the subject). In 1932, the flagship store was renovated by transatlantic liner architect Pierre Patout, in Art Déco style.

Postcard: Aux Galeries Lafayette, Atterrissage de Védrines, Le 19 Janvier 1919 (Védrine's Airplane Landing, 19th of January 1919)

Photo of Védrine's Airplane on the rooftop of the department store, 1919

Photo of Galeries Lafayette's Display for the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes

Galeries Lafayette has withstood the test of time surviving the turmoils of history. For example, "between during WWII, the department store was “aryanised”: its founders were ousted during the Occupation and the business placed under the administration of the Vichy government until the Liberation. One of the owners went into hiding while the other was sent to a concentration camp. In the aftermath of the Second World War’s bleak years, the business began to stage an economic recovery."

In 2012 the department store celebrated it's 100th birthday. "Galeries Lafayette is the second top tourist attraction, after the Eiffel Tower. It has become one of the must-see “greats” in the world. The store has hosted the likes of the Duchess of Windsor, Begum, the wife of the Aga Khan and in March 1960, right in the middle of the cold war, Mrs. Khrushchev. When she saw the escalators, she is said to have exclaimed: “It’s just like the Moscow underground!” In more recent times, the store has also welcomed Bill Clinton and Prince Charles, who opened the London exhibition."

Photo of Les Galeries Lafayettes at Christmas 1930

Photo of Les Galeries Lafayettes at Christmas 1929

Photo of Les Galeries Lafayettes at Christmas 1934



Posters, Advertising Prints and Fans

Galeries Lafayette, Emprunt National Poster encouraging the purchase of French savings bonds, 1920, Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962) Source:

Replica of Les Galeries Lafayette Catalogue Page from during the Belle époque Source:

Galeries Lafayette, Paris 1923 Original Art Deco Poster, Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962) 

Galeries Lafayette advertising fan,1923, Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962), Source:

Galeries Lafayette advertising fan,1920, Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962), Source:

Galeries Lafayette advertising fan,1919, Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962), Source:

Back of Galeries Lafayette advertising fan,1920, Jean-Gabriel Domergue (1889-1962), Source:

Les Galeries Lafayette, Dans La Tete de Toute Femme Art Deco Poster, 1929, Jean Carlu

Les Galeries Lafayette Festival de la Mode featuring Soviet, Japanese, French and American Fashion, circa early 1980s

Galeries Lafayette Poster 

Galaries Lafayette Poster, Source: Pinterest

Galaries Lafayette Poster

Galaries Lafayette Poster

Galaries Lafayette Poster

Posted: Feb 24, 2014 | Tagged: Architecture, Fashion, Galeries Lafayette, Paris, Shopping

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