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Christmas windows

Retailers are no Scrooges when it comes to festive displays. We check out their efforts.

Christmas window displays are like any other visual merchandising scheme – they’re designed to give stores a fighting chance of attracting shoppers into a store. The difference is that, at this time of year, so much rides upon the few weeks that precede December 25 that money is very often thrown at the windows.

More cash, pro rata, being splashed therefore, but this does not necessarily mean better windows. Sometimes, the best displays are those that carry a good idea and this does not have to mean pushing out the boat financially. Good execution and a degree of originality will generally be all that’s needed to trump a luxury splurge.

Dolce & Gabbana, Bond Street

For the ultimate in creating an appropriately festive feel without anything in the window actually being for sale, look no further than this Dolce & Gabanna window on Bond Street. This may be Drapers and Dolce & Gabbana may be about selling outré fashion that involves ironic fun, but this display is about food and good times. A table groaning with seasonal provender of the kind the Ghost of Christmas Past might have given the thumbs up to occupies the whole of the window. Opulent, over the top and good.

Present, Shoreditch

Trendy indie Present, in modish Shoreditch, eschews the reindeer and holly in favour of a North American ‘Happy Holidays’ approach and, to reinforce the point, a couple of thermally clothed mannequins huddle around a faux campfire. As a piece of self-conscious visual merchandising storytelling, this works well and all of the props in this window are what you’d expect to find in a pioneering version of the great outdoors. It is also a world away from the rough luxe minimalism that tends to characterise many of the schemes in this part of London.

Fred Perry, Covent Garden

Some of the better visual merchandising ideas involve taking the merchandise that is on sale in-store and removing it from the display equation. This is almost the modus operandi in the Fred Perry store in Covent Garden, where the two windows consist of an outsize Advent calendar where only a couple of the days have been opened, revealing a bag and a handbag. It is a moot point whether it would be a good idea to open each door, every day, to show something new, as the ultimate effect might be a mess, but this is nonetheless an eye-catching idea.

Fenwick, New Bond Street

Although there are multiple branches of Fenwick located across the country, each is run, more or less, as a profit centre in its own right and it’s therefore unlikely that what’s on show in the New Bond Street flagship will be seen in the other stores. And this being New Bond Street, there is a touch of luxury about this window, which features a huge silver-baubled backdrop that occupies the whole of the glass line from floor to ceiling. The mild problem with this is that, while shoppers will certainly register the Yuletide intent, there is a very real possibility they may overlook the stock entirely.

River Island, Oxford Street

A simple display that makes the most of the merchandise on show. And while it’s clear this is a Christmas window, the sense is of a gritty, urban inner-city December 25 where the seasonal greeting takes the form of graffiti on a brick wall. While this is clearly an inexpensive idea, it’s one that is simple to roll out and can be installed quickly and with minimum fuss – essential if a consistent image is to be promoted across a chain. This may not be Oxford Street’s most impressive window scheme, but it makes its pitch effectively.

Belstaff, Conduit Street

The brand that has its soul in the rough and ready world of motorcycling comes up with what is one of the simplest, and equally possibly the best, windows in London this year. Stare at this one and the play between Christmas pudding and protective headgear hits you between the eyes, communicating the notion that, while this may be a better-end proposition, its roots are in the world of bikes. The fact that the red-coloured helmets are internally illuminated means this one is really worth waiting until dusk for.

Ralph Lauren, Bond Street

You’d expect a touch of luxury from a Ralph Lauren store located on Bond Street and this flagship does not disappoint. There’s actually a fair amount of roadkill, faux or otherwise, in windows around the capital this year and Ralph Lauren exemplifies the tendency, whether it’s a tame-looking reindeer being led by a woman in white, or a pair of mute swans complementing a similarly attired female mannequin. There is also the matter of backdrop – the windows in this store are a real visual overload.

Clarks, Regent Street

Although perhaps best known as a purveyor of sensible shoes, the Clarks store on Regent Street has been noteworthy this year for its ability to make the somewhat mundane interesting. It appears, however, that it hasn’t managed to do this for Christmas. The idea of hanging distinctly beige or grey shoes from a parsimonious-looking Christmas tree, in place of decorations, might have seemed a good idea when it was conceived in head office, but both the execution and the overall effect are somewhat dull. Inexpensive, yes, but it looks it.

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