The Dufayel department store first opened its doors on the boulevard Barbès in 1856 and was originally called the “Palais de la Nouveauté” (literally, the “palace of all that is new”). The pioneering spirit of its founder, Jacques François Crespin, was taken to new heights by his successor, Georges Dufayel. Seeking an editorial image capable of conveying the quintessence of modern luxury and savoir-vivre, he commissioned Devambez to design his catalogues.

The shopping experience in the store centred on a range of carefully designed attractions and leisure activities. Once they had stowed their bicycles in the famous garage and walked under the monumental pediment, customers would discover a sumptuous series of hallways leading through the stables, the salle des maquettes (a display of architectural models) and the palm court, where “the Dufayel symphony [would] be played every day from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.”.

The piece de résistance was that masterpiece of modern leisure, the cinematograph, which presented the latest examples of the new-born art of film.

Une visite aux Grands Magasins Dufayel, Paris, Devambez, ca.1905