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!