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  • Writer's pictureReynoldsSymes

Xmas Windows 2020 - Pt 1 - London's West End

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

So Lockdown#2 is firmly underway in England – a weird neverland of confusing rules, groundhog day loops and early, early nights punctuated by random doorstep conversations with Deliveroo and Waitrose drivers. No more people! No more retail (for November at least) except online!

Undeterred by a failure to get our regular quota of retail fix (and in an attempt to work off some of the lockdown pounds we are gaining), we gallantly sallied forth into town to flaneur the highways and byways in search of early signs of Xmas – so you don’t have to!

Come with us then on our Christmas Retail Safari along the moonlit pavements of London Town to see who got their Xmas windows in before the lights went out!


Let us ask you a question - what exactly do you expect from Christmas windows this year?

Yes, we thought the same! We haven't a clue what we expect to see - we are so discombobulated that we are grateful for any crumb of normality and in a way we are collectively looking to retailers (amongst others), to provide reassurance that everything in our world is okay.

One sentiment that Reynolds/Symes do agree on, is that however sorry we feel for retailers at this time (and we really do) - we have been loyal customers to our favourite brands all year and therefore, even in a time of uncertainty we still expect them to 'put on a show', and a good one at that. We need succour, we need comfort, but most of all, we need sparkle!

Bond St Lights - Like favourite heirloom decorations, these stunning lights have been re-used to great effect.

Let's start our window walk at Selfridges then. It's no secret that we love this store and it's way of doing visual business. After all, we have both worked there and understand it's 'The Show Must Go On' ethos. The team at Selfridges continue in the vein that Harry Gordon began - extravagant, colourful and hugely entertaining. In short, they try to give us what we didn't even know we wanted yet.

A simple rendition of a much used theme 'The Christmas Tree reinvented', these windows are a colourful delight, each one reinterpreting the classic tree shape, but in different materials and for different merchandise sets. It isn't often that we see this store pack the windows with maximum product, but no doubt their thinking was to enlighten customers walking Oxford St in search of inspiration (and a little light exercise). The windows here are curated to within an inch of their life, dressed exquisitely and lit to perfection. Managing a quick peek inside the store the day before lockdown commenced, we noted old favourite decorations (the disco balls) were out in force again. What the heck if they've used them before - there's something reassuring about a familiar sight. And furthermore, we adore the opulence and warming glamour of it all. So bravo Selfridges!

Selfridges - Once Upon a Christmas (for those doing Christmas a bit differently) - simple, joyful and uplifting

Over at TopShop, the windows felt slightly more subdued than we are used to from this brand. The genius of this (seemingly economical) window was the sheer multitude of sultry, luxuriant gold motifs hung shimmering from the ceiling, cocooning the mannequins in a warm glowing light. Simple, comfortable looking, elegant clothing was dressed on beautifully made up mannequins (detailed jewelled faces). It appeared that the brand had thought through and empathised with their customer's state of mind.

TopShop - a deep, warm golden lustre. Sultry and opulent - colours harmonising with the merchandise

Our next stop was Anthropologie on London's Regent Street. Optimistic brightness prevailed here, with wacky paper crafted animals, honestly and unapologetically wedged in amongst an array of the brands covetable accessories and homeware goodies. A window shoppers paradise, if you are a fan of this company's aesthetic. We stopped and smiled - we could imagine children lingered for ages transfixed by the menagerie. Deep joy.

Anthropologie - optimistic, fun-filled and craft orientated

Further along Regent Street, fellow American brand Kate Spade had also opted for bright colour, this time a multi-gleaming show of baubles encasing the articulated figures atop a polka dot floor. Sophisticated, and we suspect not incredibly expensive, but certainly effective in generating an impactful display for this slick and elegant brand. They had cleverly used the open backed windows to bring the store itself in as background; the whole effect gelled in a pleasing, but not sickly, over the top way.

Kate Spade - a kaleidoscope of colour, pattern and finish work beautifully together, creating a zany but strangely harmonious effect

And coming to the end of todays safari, we stopped to gaze in complete contentment at Liberty's windows. Sublime, but inspired use of colour, texture and pattern. As with Selfridges, simply thinking about themed product groupings that will please window shoppers and get them dreaming about what they might buy their loved ones as a Christmas gift. Perhaps of all the windows we saw, these were dressed with the most skill. Tight little spaces with barely 50cm of space between glass and product, we agreed that the dressing team must have impeccable eyesight, supreme grouping skills and be as skinny as whippets to have achieved this. Either that, or Santa's elves dressed the windows for them!

Liberty - stuffed to the window glass with inspired merchandise - sure to make passersby stop and ponder


Our conclusion

- Huge budgets are not the be all and end all of great windows. You need ideas and skill; something that well trained, creative, seasoned visual merchandisers have in quantity.

- It's okay to recycle props - a good idea remains a good idea and can easily be updated

- Best be prepared - we're talking to all you brands who didn't have windows installed or did, but chose to switch the lights off! What were you thinking? Your customers do walk out at night - even in lockdown.

- The best brands we saw had really thought about their customers needs and dovetailed those with their own aesthetic.

Hungry for more wonderful London windows? We'll be back next week with a sweep of Knightsbridge's finest - tune in to see what we made of it all, and let us know your thoughts - we are always interested.

London Lockdown#2 is due to end on Dec 2

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