“Once Upon a Time in Belgium”: Le Bon Marché celebrates the creative spirit and offbeat humor of the country where comic books are elevated to an art form

Selective retailing


Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche and La Grande Épicerie celebrate the unique “made in Belgium” brand of culture and creativity with an exhibition entitled “Once Upon a Time in Belgium”. With unbridled wacky humor, the event features a comic book décor and a vast selection of fashion, beauty and design products conceived specially for the exhibition.   

The cradle of Surrealism, home to Spirou, Tintin, the Smurfs, Gaston Lagaffe and Michel Vaillant, Belgium’s reputation also resonates beyond the inspired drawing skills of its artists. Behind its mordant sense of humor, the “flat country” is brimming with talented artisans and bold designers. After Brazil, Japan, Brooklyn, Italy and Los Angeles, Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is celebrating Belgium’s inspiration and inventiveness in myriad forms.

This foray across the French border begins with a deep dive into the world of comic books. Heroes like Lucky Luke, Boule et Bill and Gaston Lagaffe are omnipresent, in the store windows, on the escalators and in the aisles, bringing to life a range of special products and games. The Smurfs have their very own collection of t-shirts and hoodies. Martine joins the party with a collection of shopping bags and totes. The department store’s library is showcasing comic books and collector sets featuring Belgium’s most emblematic characters.

The visit continues with a surrealist supermarket created by comedian and writer Stéphane de Groodt. His sharp and poetic wordplay brands everything from candles and candies to t-shirts. Belgium is of course known for much more than being the kingdom of humor. Ready-to-wear, fashion and design brands emblematic of a vibrant contemporary black-yellow-red lifestyle are featured in the women’s department. Pop-up stores include the Essentiel Antwerp label, Maison Delvaux luxury leather goods and an array of edgy brands such as  Valentine Witmeur, Kassl Editions and Alicia Audrey.

For men, the exhibition welcomes the iconic Bellerose brand, as well as ethically made sneakers from Norm, plus minimalist sportswear by Arte and Suspicious Antwerp. For athletic-minded shoppers, Joh Clothing proposes t-shirts that boldly proclaim Belgians’ love of cycling, Achielle shows its cult bikes and The Skateroom has a capsule collection of exclusive skateboards.

The world of beauty joins the lighthearted fun with impertinent craft soaps from Wash Wash Cousin and the famous “crème sorcière” witch hazel cream from the celebrated Brussels skincare house Delbôve. The Marisol salon de coiffure is on hand as well with its hops-based hair brilliance treatment.

The exhibition would not be complete without a tribute to the culinary delights of the “flat country”, renowned for its sweets, chocolates and beers. La Grande Epicerie de Paris goes all in for a discovery of tasty and fun specialties: spéculoos cookies from Maison Dandoy, sweets from the Joris family-owned confectionary and a mouthwatering range of condiments and sauces for Belgian fries. Le Bon Marché’s restaurants join the celebration with special Belgian menus.

“Once Upon a Time in Belgium” continues through October 28 at Le Bon Marché and La Grande Epicerie de Paris.