This is the kind of area within a department store that might prove difficult to create anywhere in Europe these days, given the price of property in the continent’s more central urban locations.
This, however, is not a central location, which is perhaps even more of a shock. El Palacio de Hierro is a department store in Interlomas – a newish suburb just beyond the official boundaries of the sprawling mass that is Mexico City and home to big houses, malls and department stores.
And while the exterior of this store is black glass monolithic, enter via the sports department and the vista is surprising. This is an enormous space and the merchandise is, for the most part, displayed in the centre of the shop from a suspended rail system. The large central aisle runs deep into the interior and gives room for several dramatic mannequin displays.
In keeping with edgier sports retailers – which have a relatively low level of ambient light – the stock, rather than the shop, is illuminated. What really demands your entry, however, are outsize screens that are also suspended from the ceiling in semi-military formation.
Many parts of the rest of this store are equally show-stopping and alongside the nearby Liverpool department store, also an architectural tour de force, El Palacio de Hierro exemplifies the brave new world that characterises this outlying part of the city.
It also serves to dispel the myth that the best things are always to be found in the downtown heart of urban agglomerations. If this were London, Interlomas would probably be the equivalent of Watford or Croydon and you would struggle to find something similar in either location.