Galeries Lafayette place art and artists at the heart of their business

news October 2023 Financial Times

What: Galeries Lafayette remains true to their DNA by opening and operating their foundation, Anticipations.

Why it is important: Department stores are not only here to sell products, but also to create emotional bonds with their clientele so that they remain loyal.

Guillaume Houzé, part of the family that owns Galeries Lafayette, Europe's largest department store chain, discusses the store's rich history and its strong ties to culture and art. Founded by Théophile Bader in 1894, the store quickly grew and incorporated grand architectural designs, including Art Nouveau staircases and a prominent glass dome. 

Houzé wears multiple hats. Apart from overseeing the brand's image, he's also the president of the National Association for the Development of the Fashion Arts and serves on boards of Christie's France and the Municipal Museum of Modern Art. While retail is deeply embedded in his family's traditions, Houzé's art fascination was particularly influenced by his art-loving grandparents.

Notably, he founded Lafayette Anticipations, a unique private museum in Paris. While it has a collection of its own, it primarily serves as an innovative space for artists to craft new pieces. Architect Rem Koolhaas transformed a 19th-century building into this dynamic space, complete with a versatile steel-and-glass exhibition tower. Unlike traditional museums, Anticipations aims to be a 'toolbox' for artists, offering a place to create and display their work. Houzé views this initiative as an extension of his family's legacy of intertwining retail with art and culture.

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