The story behind the iconic Christmas tree of the Galeries Lafayette

Published by Cécile D. · Photos by My B. · Published on 24 December 2021 at 11h20
Every year, the Galeries Lafayette delights the Holidays with their iconic Christmas tree. A very old tradition! Here is more about the story of this Christmas landmark!

This is one of the most awaited Christmas events of the year: the inauguration of Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree and windows. This huge tree, suspended under the cupola of the Parisian department stores and decorated with thousands of lights and items makes children’s and adults’ eyes sparkle.

Where does this iconic tradition come from, what story hides behind this huge decorated tree adorning the Galeries Lafayette for Christmas? Let us tell you more about it.

Inauguration vitrines et sapin des Galeries Lafayettes 2021 Inauguration vitrines et sapin des Galeries Lafayettes 2021 Inauguration vitrines et sapin des Galeries Lafayettes 2021 Inauguration vitrines et sapin des Galeries Lafayettes 2021 Inauguration of the Christmas windows and tree 2021 at Paris Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
In Paris, Christmas magic takes over the Galeries Lafayette from Wednesday November 17, 2021. The lovely enchanted Christmas windows and giant trees are to be expected! This year, Omar and Hélène Sy, Louane and Leïla Bekhti are the faces of the Galeries Lafayette festivities. [Read more]

Galeries Lafayette’s first Christmas celebrations started in 1912 with lights on the façade of the stores, quickly followed by festive decorations in the famous windows. Only years later, the first Christmas tree is set within the store. This tree will grow and magnificent decorations adorning it will grow until they reach today’s fame.

On their website, the retail chain tells the story of this tree. “The Christmas celebrations started in 1920 with the annual internal Christmas party. The employees were invited, with their children, to come and enjoy an on-stage show and admire the Christmas tree, both of which were placed just in front of the stately staircase, under the beautiful dome”.

This moment must have been so appreciated the Galeries Lafayette have decided to renew the experience the following years, transforming this internal and discreet celebration in a major event attracting crowds from all over the world.

Christmas decorations have been systematically changing since 1945 to suit a special theme: designers and artists are entrusted with inventing new decors to amaze clients. Among them: Raymond Peynet, Albert Dubout, Jean Effel, Pierre Pothier…

The Galeries Lafayette remembers a few special trees that marked their history:

  • Christmas 1976: a giant aluminum tree reveals the Galeries Lafayette’s boldness. A 23-meters high structure, weighing 1,6 tons and bearing 400 square meter of aluminum, is parading in the great hall of the boulevard Haussmann’s store! Made out of 160 silvers baubles, the Christmas tree required 2 full months of work from the “avions René Cousinet” company. Mr. Meyer’s idea, carried out by Mr. Adnet and Mr. Gauchet, breaks with the tradition of displaying a Christmas tree on the façade. 1976 is also the first year the fir is placed at the center of the great hall, the Majorelle staircase having been removed two years before. The tradition of hanging the tree under the dome is born.

  • Christmas 1997: “British Christmas”. Christmas is British and under the dome, one can discover a twenty-meter-high tree with strange cherubs and multicolored bows created by Vivienne Westwood.

  • Christmas 2012: “Ball of the Century” with Louis Vuitton. The 100th anniversary of the glass dome is celebrated with a huge Swarovski Christmas tree created by Hilton McConnico. The 21-meters high tree is decorated with 120 brilliant-cut ornaments and topped with a 9-meters chandelier made of more than 5 000 smaller Swarovski crystals. 100 stones and a 5-meters wide star on its top, shimmer and light up the Galeries Lafayette’s dome. It is the biggest tree in Europe.

  • Christmas 2014: “A Monstrous Christmas” with Jerry Hall. Monsters took over the store that year and turned the huge Christmas tree upside down! A bewildering but enchanting sight! The tree’s decorations were all inspired by the centenary Art Nouveau dome.

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