Window displays are a serious matter for iconic department stores and indie retailers alike. The in-store (and outside-store-front) retail experience gets turned up to eleven at Christmas and we love looking at the themes and contrasts that reveal themselves at this time of year.
Some retailers use the opportunity to tell bigger stories or enter into collaborations; others go for the straight-up product-as-hero approach. Whatever route retailers choose, we think they make Christmas shopping that bit less stressful and more magical.
Here are a few of our favourites, and why we love them.
Debenhams (nationwide) – Chloe
I love this window because of the glitter, that amazing shade of pink, the fairytale vibes – and, most importantly, the copy. It ties in beautifully with the TV ad. “You shall” reminds all of us of the Fairy Godmother’s assertion: “You shall go to the ball” in Cinderella. It sounds almost like a spell or an incantation, and makes me sparkle a little bit inside every time I see it. Christmas is a fairytale time of year and I think these displays and ads capture that beautifully while staying on the right side of sugary-sweet.
NashWhite (Stratford-upon-Avon) – Jade
This window from NashWhite, a hair salon in Stratford-upon-Avon caught my eye. It’s a Christmassy collaboration with Pashley Cycles, another local business. It looks really festive and I liked that the two local businesses decided to team up.
Fortnum & Mason – Nic
For me it’s all about the big, old skool department stores, you know the ones that have been around since the beginning of time. Because Christmas is all about tradition, they make me think back to Christmasses long since past and I love how the windows are used like the pages of a picture book, visually telling us a story.
Fortnum and Mason never fail to impress and this year is no exception. The setup took 12 weeks to build and showcases hours of craftsmanship by sculptors and installation artists – even makeup artists were used to perfect the faces of the characters.
Created in collaboration with Otherway, the theme nods to Fortnum’s long history in the very best food and drink and shows the key moments of the Christmas holidays: from popping champagne corks and dressing the tree, to opening the door of an advent calendar. Illustrator Chervelle Fryer was commissioned to bring the idea to life. The creative process involved going through rounds of detailed hand sketching to create one continuous scene with multiple layers of storytelling, through to a final full-colour, one-off illustrated art piece, which was created digitally.
The result is a magical, almost Alice in Wonderland-style surreal adventure all brought together with the tagline, “Together We’re Merrier” celebrating the belief that amazing things can happen when we all pull in the same direction – pretty appropriate at the moment don’t you think?
Selfridges (London, Birmingham, Manchester) – Tom
Taking preparation to the next level, Selfridges Oxford Street store was primed for stage one of its reveal before Halloween had even finished! This year they’re sending a message of love from the three cities they call home: London, Manchester and Birmingham. I admire how the London store uses the festive parade to celebrate the diversity, creativity and eccentricity of our capital.
In true Selfridges style, they’ve captured the spirit of Christmas using over 850 metres of velvet, embroidered flags, dancing characters and ten Santas in one window. What’s not to love?!
Harrods with Dolce & Gabbana (London) – Fran
A stand-out for me this year is Dolce & Gabbana’s Christmas extravaganza at Harrods. Not new to a single-brand takeover (see also: Burberry’s ‘A Very British Fairytale’ in 2016), Harrods has handed over the reins to D&G for a truly magnificent display. Spanning over 23 windows and 14 displays, with a rumoured expenditure of £7m, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have spared no expense in transporting the passers-by of Knightsbridge into their dream Italian Christmas.
From the Pinocchio-esque cuckoo-clock workshop and the beauty parlour to the Italian kitchen with a fabulously branded SMEG fridge, puppets of both designers are featured in situ in every display – styling hair, making dinner and handing out gifts to their families. From the beautifully themed prints and decor to the mannequins showcasing their latest fashion offerings, the explosion of colour, lights and visual impact is unmistakeably Dolce & Gabbana. It’s a complete showstopper!
Fenwick’s (Newcastle) – Emily
Ever since I was little, I’ve always been enchanted by Christmas windows and still now I love what they signify. They always twinkle into the streets just as the doom and gloom of November descends, so this is a hard one to choose.
Being half-Geordie now… I feel I have to say Fenwicks in Newcastle. Each year, it’s based on a story and each window is an individual scene – it has no product placement and is purely based on celebrating the story it’s showing. It’s a must-see in Newcastle over the Christmas period and has successfully established itself as the beginning of Christmas. I love seeing people’s faces happy and excited to walk through each scene, losing themselves at whatever age in a moment of Christmas joy! Then I usually descend on the food hall in an elated Christmassy haze and break the bank balance… it works!