It’s an obvious fact! In 2019 before the onset of this horrible pandemic, France was consistently ranked by the WTO as the most visited country in the world (91.4 million tourists), way ahead of Italy, Mexico, the United States and Spain. Despite a wide array of things that might annoy us when in France and regardless of what anyone says we all have our personal bugbears with the country, specifically the Paris part. Whether you’re Chinese, American, Danish, Russian, South African, Australian or Arab, there will always be an arrondissement, a street, an archway, a wing of the Louvre or the Orsay museum, a hot croissant, a cafe terrace, a luxury brand, a bridge, or a Paris hilltop forever etched in your memory. And what’s more, and above all, there’ll be a special memory stamped by a section of Galeries Lafayette.

This famed landmark is its own Arc de Triomphe, a Concorde, a Pont des Arts. For over 120 years, Galeries Lafayette have been an epicenter of global retail creativity, and through their business activities and their myriad corporate patronages, a tireless supporter of fashion, art, design and architecture. From above, where everything is luxurious,  calm and beautiful, the two cousins and founders Théophile Bader and Alphonse Kahn can sleep soundly – and happily. Back in 1894, they realized their family dream of opening a fashion store in Paris. Quickly becoming an icon of Parisian fashion, Galeries Lafayette continues to be one of the most recognizable names in the world, and an illustrious beacon to all those who would inspire and aspire within the luxury fashion industry.

Love story

Opening a Galeries Lafayette in Nice, Berlin, Jakarta, Beijing, Dubai and Istanbul made sense. Of course. Opening Galeries Lafayette in Doha, Qatar, and creating 15,000 sqm of designed retail space with 400 brands in store, was more of an … indication: not only of the love story between the two countries that grows stronger year after year, but also of the fact that Doha, probably the most soulful city in the Gulf, is the only city in the region with this bubbly je ne sais quoi of Paris, of the French art of living… So here we are with those rich golden friezes harking back to Theophile Bader’s Parisian dream of creating a luxurious universe with golden light filtering through a domed roof and flooding down into a grand hall below. Paris itself is symbolized through stunning design that embodies the perfect combination of form and function with warm golden colors, stunning plasterwork, all naturally illuminated through the magnificent stained glass cupola.

It’s Paris in Qatar! The spirit of this incredible city is found in the heart of Galeries Lafayette Doha, thanks, also, to its two inspired architects. When studying the style of Bruno Moinard (an interior architect, scenographer, designer, illustrator and painter) and Claire Bétaille (who graduated from the École du Louvre in 2001 and École Camondo in 2006), it is easy to see that it is unique in the sense that it does not pay attention solely to fashion, but that it is also both timeless and effortless, and that it addresses, in an artistic and aesthetic manner, the challenge at hand. Both of them master the essence of French culture and architectural beauty, and know perfectly how to export it smartly and graciously.

Culture and retail

Galeries Lafayette’s location also helps to spread the Parisian feel, lying as it does within the newly developed 21 High St the ultimate outdoor shopping destination at the heart of Katara Cultural Village, home to a thriving and bustling cultural scene. Katara hosts many festivities, cultural events and activities all-year-round, drawing large crowds to the area. This will further ensure that a tide of people visit Galeries Lafayette and it also reflects the store’s commitment to seamlessly merging art and culture with fashion and retail within its very fabric.

Before the pandemic, this cultural and retail coming together has been happening often. In 2019, from April to June, Galeries Lafayette hosted an art exhibition for local visual artist Shouq Al Mana. The iconic French department store has always made it a priority to promote local talent, be it in fashion or in art, and Qatari artist Al Mana was “an organic choice for the first collaboration for an art exhibition at Galeries Lafayette Doha,” according to the store’s press release at the time. Later, on Qatar National Day, an art festival was held from November 28 until January 2020, highlighting the works of renowned Qatari artist Ahmed Al Maadheed. And on February 22, 2020, Galeries Lafayette Doha launched the unique ‘Mother Blossom’ campaign, to celebrate the advent of spring but also to pave the way for Mother’s Day celebrations in the Middle East on March 21. The stars of this campaign were the creative floral designs by world-famous British paper artist Zoe Bradley.

Whatever the future holds, it seems certain that Galeries Lafayette will continue to export a wonderfully authentic French experience to the benefit of everyone in Doha.