My favorite department store in the world is the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. I first stepped inside the grand department store back in 1997, my first trip to Paris and I've been shopping there every since. In fact, many of the things I have bought at the store over the years are still in my wardrobe today. This August, I was lucky enough to have a private tour and given access to take photos inside. I was also lucky to be able to experience Galerie Lafayette's personal shopping service.
What I love the best about Galerie Lafayette is that there are so many different brands under one roof (a very big roof!). Not only can you shop expensive luxury goods from Chanel to Louis Vuitton, you can also shop for midrange to inexpensive brands such as Topshop. I love walking through the beauty department that sits oh so dazzlingly under the neo-byzantine dome built in 1912. All the lipsticks and perfumes, smell all the more sweeter here of course. And unlike most stores, shopping abroad is best because it's tax free and you can choose to get your tax refund (12%) via cash back or credit. Learn more about the tax free details.
My fantastic tour guide was Indré (pictured right) who gave me such an amazing detail about the history of Galeries Lafayette. While we were under the dome, Indré showed me the art installation by Phillippe Ramette that was up from July to the end of August, titled "Eloge de la contemplation (le temps suspendu)" which means place of contemplation (suspended time). Galeries Lafayette holds art dear to its heart so it's no surprise that they showcase different artists and exhibits throughout the year in the store.
Galeries Lafayette's art gallery is on the main floor and is called the Galiere des Galieres. This year the Galerie des Galeries invites the photographer Philippe Jarrigeon to exhibit his work. With "Grand Magasin" (means department store) he has created a series of images inspired by this place and people’s experiences of it. (From September 23 to November 14, 2014.)
Every August, there is some sort of installation exhibit on the 4th floor. This summer it was the L'Excellence a la Française which showcased all the famous French brands and what region of France they came from.
After all these years of going to Paris, I had no idea that there was a rooftop with the most amazing view of the city! You could turn around 365 degrees and see everything from the Eiffel Tower to the Sacré Cœur. You definitely won't want to miss this gorgeous view where you can also sit and take a break. I loved that it wasn't crowded up on the rooftop at all so you could really enjoy the breathtaking view.
Now let's talk fashion at Galeries Lafayette. One of my best memories was shopping in here for hours with one of my best friends Susan when we came to Paris back in 2003. My Jean-Paul Gaultier motorcycle leather clutch is still one of my prized possessions that I still use to this day. There were also countless French brands that I was introduced to from this department store. This time, Indré my guide told me about Labo Luxe, a special section featuring new or eclectic designers on the 1st floor. If the designers do well in this section, they eventually will be given their own prized space within the department store. This summer Labo Luxe features Anne Valerie Hash, Correges, Dice Kayek, Jean-Paul Lespagnard, Maiyet, Mary Katrantzou, N021, Olympia Le Tan, Osman, Pascal Millet, Rochas, Ungaro. One of the prized designers from this section this season has been Dice Kayek who has already moved up to another floor.
I was dying over the beauty of Olympia Le Tan's book bags. I wanted that pink Mary Poppins for myself!
My personal shopper was Elodie and she took me around the store to help me pick new outfits and find the right sizes. I wanted to be introduced to new to me brands and french brands that weren't as readily available in the U.S. If I liked something, a couple sizes were picked for me and whisked away to an upstairs dressing room where I would try everything on hours later. (She also helped me find clothes for my 5 year old Chloe which be posted up on Coquette Maman soon. )
Elodie introduced me to Sandro and Claudie Pierlot, two French brands that most Parisians love. I of course fell in love with them too. The clothes were both stylish and easy to wear.
I picked up this tweed jacket at Sandro but am still dreaming about the navy blue zipper blazer I tried on as well. I couldn't get both so I decided on the tweed jacket which had a casual vibe to them featuring gold zippers at the arms. It was also really warm and cozy - perfect for SF. I also was happy to pick up a few sweaters at Claudie Pierlot that I know I will live in this winter.
Cos is a Sweedish brand that stands for Collection of Style. The prices are affordable like Zara but the style is 100 notches above. I found the best long sleeve tops here that I've been living in lately as we transition into fall.
Iro is one of those brands that oozes hip style. From their skinny jeans with leather panels to their cozy sweaters, I really loved the cool vibe the brand gave. Alas, they only had sample sizes for fall and the rest of the fall clothes weren't due in for a few weeks.
Kenzo is another popular brand that I saw all around Paris. They are phasing out the tiger for the new "eye" design that was featured on sweatshirts, jackets and tote bags. For me, I loved their more put together looks like the navy and yellow printed pants above.
Once all the outfits were picked, Elodie took me upstairs to the VIP personal shopping dressing area. It was such a beautiful room and Elodie hung up on a rack all the clothes I was going to try on. It was a great experience for me to have a stylist on hand to help me find things I normally wouldn't see. Also she was invaluable at being able to direct me to brands that fit my lifestyle as well as budget. In the end, I came home with outfits that I'll be able to wear beyond for this season. I always find that at Galerie Lafayette, you're able to pick up fashion that will extend your style and this time around, I was able to even more so with the stylist help from Elodie.
The personal shopping service is free at Galerie Lafayette, although I don't know if there's a minimum you have to purchase for. It's also great for when you are short on time. You can call ahead and talk with a stylist about your likes/dislikes and they can pull your size and have a dressing room ready for you when you arrive for your appointment. They can also deliver your purchases to your hotel or ship them back home for you for a fee.
If you are visiting Galerie Lafayette this fall, don't miss the Karl Lagerfeld corner on the 3rd floor. Pick up the essential white shirt, the perfecto jacket the leather trousers and the Kuilted bags.
There is also new Lafayette Maison and Lafayette Gourmet space with a new building spanning 5 floors for all your home and food desires.
I hope to continue to update you more on Galerie Lafayette happenings on Coquette! Read my post about Kids Clothing at Galeries Lafayette on Coquette Maman.