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The iconic Pont-Neuf department store, La Samaritaine, returns to Paris sixteen years after its closure, except this time, LVMH are changing the nature of the physical shopping experience with immersive retail

As today marks the official inauguration of La Samaritaine, the landmark department store that captured the hearts of Parisiennes from the late 19th Century to 2005, the reopening will bring a new chapter for the fashion centric city and the future of luxury retail.

Following the closure almost 16 years ago due to safety fears, the decadent art nouveau building has been restored at the hands of the opulent goods conglomerate, LVMH. Located on the First Arrondissement, the epochal building has long prided itself as a site of indulgence for travellers and locals alike, where the time spent meandering through the building is as magnificent an experience as the products provided.

LVMH’s early ownership and plans for restoration

Following LVMH’s ownership of 55% of the monument back in 2001, and the remainder later in 2021, €750 million has been allocated in the renovation. The retail renaissance comes at a time when the world has been indoctrinated into online shopping over the past year, offering a curated consumer experience across 70,000metres squared. Honouring its founders, Ernest and Marie-Louise Cognacq-Jay, original art deco architecture and rectangular glass atrium has been restored alongside more contemporary designs by the Japanese architectural firm SANAA, which surrounds the building.

Altering the meaning of the retail experience

A beacon of hope in the post-pandemic era, LVMH chairman and CEO BernardArnault has shared his vision for the future of the department store. “I am both delighted and proud to see La Samaritaine, a true institution to which Parisians have always been deeply attached, restored to its magnificent beauty and iconic stature. The long history of La Samaritaine has been shaped by bold vision, prosperity and a sense of solidarity. With this new chapter, the story will now continue long into the future.”

The grand reveal was made by French President Emmanuel Macron and Bernard Arnault, exposing the dynamic destination for future consumers, alongside a daycare centre, 15,000 square meters of office space and 96 social housing units also form part of the complex. In the quest of modernising the beautiful figments of the past, LVMH proves that with attention and purpose, the creations of our ancestors many years ago can find a place in our present society, and a timeless one at that.
Credit: Courtesy of LVMH
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Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.