In 1865, the self-made-man Jules Jaluzot decided to build his first shop on the crossroads of boulevard Haussmann and rue du Havre. Originally, this district was considerably far from the centre of Paris, but the entrepreneur and his acolyte Duclos foresaw how its proximity to Saint Lazare station and the covered passages of the Grands Boulevards would eventually gather them sufficient clientele. They therefore initially bought three floors of an opulent-looking haussmannian building and called it “Printemps”. After Bon Marché (the first Parisian department store opened in 1852), BHV and Samaritaine, Printemps established itself as the last department store in the capital to which everybody who was anybody rushed for the latest trends. This very first version of Printemps was equipped with spacious shop windows and strongly resembled a type of large covered market with the roofing held up by columns.
It was only one year after its opening that Printemps really struck a chord, with its ever continuing initiative of sales! Instead of getting rid of old clothes and product lines, why not continue to sell them during a defined period of time at reduced prices? This idea charmed customers and despite the then current crisis, Printemps saw several prosperous years.
In 1874, Printemps Haussmann developed. New floors were rented and two houses from the neighbouring rue de Provence were annexed to the shop. Iron bridges were also constructed to join the buildings together, but the real showstopper was the installation of two new elevators. No other shop had yet introduced such innovations. Following these works, the store lapped up a great reputation throughout the capital. The developments continued in the following years with further neighbouring buildings bought and a fourth frontage acquired on rue de Caumartin.
But in 1881, a devastating fire completely destroyed the buildings of Printemps. Only those recently acquired on the rue Caumartin were able to escape the disaster. Jaluzot however, quickly picked himself up and reconstructed the buildings. The architecture of the new Printemps became the very archetype of today’s department store.
In 1905, the management changed hands and it was Gustave Laguionie who took over Printemps with plenty of ambition. Laguionie wanted to further expand the store so that products could be visible to the maximum and hence better draw in the customers. The architectural style of the new Printemps Haussmann was stunning. It was overhung by an intricately designed immense dome, and boasted a panoramic view terrace. It was _the_department store for luxury of the beginning of the twentieth century.
Although another fire destroyed the store again in 1923, the second reconstruction, based on the same plans as before, was carried out just as quickly and a new stained glass dome, the icon of the store, was installed. Soon after the construction work was completed, Printemps Haussmann decided to organise its interior design in a similar way to its exterior and in doing so, transformed its window displays into real works of art. It was at the beginning of the twentieth century that the animated Christmas window displays first came about, which we can still admire today.