MEDIA: MEDIA CHOICE; xmas Shop windows

Peter Clements Business development director European Business News

Peter Clements

Business development director

European Business News

What an assignment! While my predecessors in this column got to make

their Media Choice from the comfort of their desks, I get the end-of

term outing. Yes, window shopping. Or perhaps I should say, shopping

windows. What’s in and what’s out.

So, having gladly volunteered for a seasonal media choice, I now find

myself the unexpected, and unworthy, arbiter of all things bright and

beautiful in London’s shop windows.

Unperturbed, I head for Covent Garden, hoping to sample a good range in

one relatively confined space. Mistake number two. I still don’t get it.

What is one supposed to feel? What constitutes good and bad in the world

of the window dresser.

Maybe my ignorance stems from the fact that I’ve neither met a window

dresser nor seen one in action. Who are these people and who teaches

them? While pondering this, a fortunate diversion into Floral Street

produces a number of identifiable themes: the minimalist understated

approach - a few elegant banners with images alluding to, but never

really stating, a festive imperative. The cryptic and obtuse - fairy

lights concealed within mesh mannequins. And of course, the faded

greenery and balding tinsel, screaming ‘It’s Christmas you morons, come

and get it’. Uhm, I think I’m beginning to understand.

And then by accident, my own little retail Bethlehem, Dickins & Jones,

Regent Street. A four-cornered, window dresser’s nirvana. Like three-

dimensional frames from an exquisitely crafted animation appear Sarah

and Kendal. Two six-foot symbols of the D&J experience. My cynical mind

immediately thinks - budget; Gerry Anderson made movies for less, with

less! Their lives are played out, scene by scene, window by window.

Benign and yet creepy enough to shake up the under-fives.

Is this illustrative of a change in the way this vast marketing untapped

asset is used, or a one-off bout of seasonal eccentricity aimed at

appeasing shopped-out toddlers? Well, my own dusty boyhood memories of

shop windows always seem to feature Hepburneseque-mannequins balancing

on tiny feet, wielding handbags and clutching confetti. But what D&J has

done is to use its windows and the characters within them to create a

metaphor for what D&J can and should mean to its customers.

I imagine that we haven’t seen the last of Sarah and Kendal and they

probably represent the beginnings of a fundamental shift in the way D&J

intends to address its particular retailing challenge. Now I get it.

Miss it at your peril!


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