Sunday, 25 December 2011

Window Displays: Selfridges vs. Liberty at Christmas

In what could easily be described as Baroque and Roll, Selfridges went for all-out decadence but in a strict palette of white and silver. I love the cheeky skull that made its way into the display.

Mannequins showed a lot of uber-modern minimalist fashion, without distracting patterns. These pieces did the talking by themselves.

Against a backdrop of whitewashed wooden planks and giant ribbon decorations, the scene was set.

The Blackberry tree got me interested. This was a simple but effective piece of product placement and it's much nicer to look at than an advert or a slogan.

Homeware also got in on the act, with these laddered shelves catching my eye.

At Liberty the windows were definitely fantastical, but with an underlying craft element that was very British. The baubles in cages are already a feature at our house, and it's nice to see window displays that take on elements of reality as well.

Eveningwear gets a look-in with the moon taking centre stage

Seven swans a swimming, as the carol goes... you can see how the theme took hold in this window.

Mannequins looked languid and seemed to drape themselves over the products.

The theme really drew together all of the corresponding windows and it didn't feel detached from the spirit of Liberty as a department store.

Could I pick a favourite?

It's a tough one. I love the starkness of Selfridges, but I also keep coming back to the scene setting at Liberty. If I was pushed to decide then I'd say Liberty, as the traditional aspect really appealed to me, and it was a very welcoming piece of visual merchandising.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Window Displays: A Very London Christmas

[All photos my own. Please ask permission before reproducing].

Here's a condensed snapshot of my window snaps. More to follow tomorrow...

Selfridges is an ocean of white right now. The Visual Merchandisers went for a crisp and stark look, softened by silver glitter and traditional green trees. Inside the decorations were kept to a similarly strict colour scheme, but with more warmth to brighten up the shop (loads of white + yellow shop floor lighting does not make for the best combination in large doses, folks, so you have to add a little something).

John Lewis was having a ball (yup, Christmas joke, sorry) with its choice of polystyrene globes in varying shapes and sizes, which were also suspended in long strands from the ceiling by the escalators. I really liked the balancing out of textures with the tree trunks, which also helps to draw the eye upwards. Clothing was simple and trend-led.

Liberty's displays always have an air of fairytales about them, and this year was no exception. Top marks to the VMs for adding a subtle fetish twist here with chains and the gorgeous Vivienne Westwood dress that references Paul Delaroche. There were loads of Baroque influences, little animals, stacks of books and luckily they'd got rid of their strangely hypnotic frog which freaked me out so much previously.

Going further than Selfridges for the simple white theme, French Connection continued its text-heavy campaign (you know the ads: 'You Are Woman', etc.) with 'I Am Your Gift' boxes. The haphazard stacking really appealed to me - let's face it, the older you get, the more disorganised Christmas becomes - and the floor lighting also gave it an edge.

I love stating the obvious. Obviously.

For more Christmas windows, check back here tomorrow.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Vintage Fashion Dilemma - should you buy authentic or shop on the high street?

Ever since my last post on a visit to Beyond Retro, I've been thinking about vintage clothes and different people's attitudes to them. Some of my friends love the style from the 1950s but would never dream of looking for something that was that old, worrying more about where the item had been and if someone had died in it (yep, if you've ever been vintage or charity shop shopping then you'll be familiar with that sort of comment). Personally I'm happy to think of things as pre-owned and pre-loved, and if someone else has had amazing adventures in my jumper before I did then that's pretty damn good. I do know that not everyone has the same opinion about all things old, so I thought I'd get to grips with some of the stereotypes surrounding retro fashion:

  • THE VINTAGE SNOB - she only likes it if it's been picked up from one of the best niche markets and it comes with a long back-story. If you try and fob her off with Topshop's latest take on the Peter Pan collar then she'll have a hissy fit. It must be genuine and it must be a little bit out there. If it comes complete with moth damage then she'll see it as part of the price you pay for the real thing. Her most over-used phrase is: "It's vintage, daaaahling,".
  • THE JUMBLE SALE JUNKIE - she scours jumble sales and car boot fairs in the hope of bypassing the insane prices for vintage clothing pieces that are essentially just someone's unwanted goods from the 1970s. If something cost her £3 then she'll love it that little bit more. She's into customising and is happy to repair her purchases to get them in good nick.
  • THE CHARITY SHOP VOLUNTEER - one of the main reasons for her stint in the shop (aside from giving back to the community, blah blah) is to get first dibs on the stock. Yep, I've been one of these in the past, and now I look at current volunteers and mutter, "You don't know how lucky you are..." as I scour the rails for the perfect tea dress that might have escaped the dreaded rag pile for textiles recycling.
  • THE SECOND HAND PHOBIC - she'd run a mile from anything that might look used. Charity shops give her goosebumps, and not in a good way. She'd have to wash something ten times before it vaguely smelt of anything other than grannies, and even then she'd be paranoid that someone would judge her. It's all about shiny newness and screw the upcycling, because you can always buy another one.
  • THE RETRO COPYCAT - why waste time trawling through vintage fairs when you can pop down the shops and see what Primark's take on the shift dress is? The benefit of styles that come back round again is that you can take the idea but make it modern, with forgiving fabrics and easy care wash labels. None of that dry-clean-only rubbish. If you can get it for under £30 on the high street then it's a bonus.
If you do want to look for a vintage bargain near you then I've posted on quite a few shops in the past, from London to Edinburgh, and I'd also recommend Judy's Affordable Fashion Fair, which travels round the UK and is a great way to shop cheaply - they sometimes do special sales where you can buy goods by the kilo.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Shop Shots: Beyond Retro in Dalston

[All photos my own, taken at the Dalston branch of Beyond Retro in London].
The Beyond Retro vintage company is synonymous with revived trends, kitsch and old-school glamour, all under one roof. Step into any of their branches and you'll find items from your childhood, brands you remember vaguely, and some brilliant pieces that you wish you could carry off but don't quite have the lifestyle for - in this visit, I found a tartan stirrup-edged jumpsuit and some very lurid rainbow jumpers that I was tempted by, but couldn't quite see them sitting in my wardrobe. Really the whole experience is about finding something that's authentic and not easily available to everyone, even if your chosen item is currently back in fashion. Holding the real thing and knowing you've discovered it after an intense scouring of the rails can be a serious thrill. I went to this North London store for a nose around and wasn't disappointed.

Some of the newer pieces have been bought in bulk so you will find two or three the same, such as with these hats and braces in the menswear accessories section. Having the choice of different colours is really useful when you're trying to be a bit daring with fashion, because most high street shops will only offer a black trilby or a pair of red braces, and anything else will leave you searching the internet and missing out on the physicality of tracking down the item yourself (part of the reason I love shopping).

There's co-ordination across the store for ease of browsing, but in particular the colour grouping of the lingerie and nightwear made this area seem much less formidable. A lot of people get freaked out by the idea of someone else's nightdress or bra, especially if everything is in a random order like a jumble sale, but there was something more elegant about a row of pale bodices, bralets and waspie corsets, in every shade from ice white to magnolia.

Visual merchandising is reliably brilliant at Beyond Retro, with this Christmassy display proving to be no exception. The dapper gent in his scarlet waistcoat and the red wigged ladies are introducing seasonal colours without seeming too obvious - there was a whole rail of Christmas jumpers, but they were not included in this scene. By the way, the overly affectionate couple on the left were an accidental addition, but I decided to leave them in as they almost blended into the jackets directly in front of them.

I loved this little display of luggage ideas, with the messenger bag, briefcase and modern lemon yellow rucksack. Meanwhile the outfit combination on the right (cream blazer, striped shirt and spotty tie) is so typical of what my dad wears that it literally could have been prised off his back. He is going to be amused and slightly worried to discover that he's such a trendsetter!

Shopability at Beyond Retro: Very easy. Everything's well organised, constantly updated and the aisles are wide enough to not involve a collision as you rifle through the stock.

Prices: Generally good, considering that 'vintage fashion' commands a higher price point than charity shop clothing, despite some of it being the same. As long as you avoid the basics and head to the more unusual pieces then you'll get your money's worth - a simple black and white spotty synthetic shirt isn't going to really justify a high price tag when you can pop into any high street shop and get one brand new. I bought a lurid pink knitted jumper for £14 and a very cool scarf for one of my sister's Christmas stocking fillers which certainly didn't break the bank. The tartan hair bow near the till point at just £5 also caught my eye.

Don't Miss: The attached cafe. Definitely worth a visit for the coffee and the old books lining the walls.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...