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Leon Godchaux emigrated to America from France in 1836 at the age of twelve. He peddled notions on foot to the plantations around New Orleans and at the age of fifteen opened his first dry goods store 40 miles north of New Orleans. By 1865 the store had moved to Canal Street in New Orleans and made men’s clothing. After the Civil War the store continued to be operated by family members, while Leon went on to become the wealthiest sugar merchant in the South.

In 1926 Leon’s grandson moved the store to its final location at 826-828 Canal Street and changed its image to an exclusive emporium catering to the middle and upper classes. He also added women’s and children’s clothing, jewelry, linens, and home accessories. Famous designers would make guest appearances and the windows featured high-end exclusive items such as a $45,000 pair of black suede shoes adorned with diamonds.

Godchaux’s eventually expanded to the suburbs and added inventory for customers of more modest means. The company went bankrupt in 1986.

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from a late 1940s dress  - Courtesy of

from a late 1940s dress

Courtesy of