I like shop window display. I like fashion. I like toys. I like it when all 3 of these things come together. You can imagine, then, my scrabble to get the trusty IXUS out of my bag when passing these H&M windows.
Not a shop for a lot of ‘propping’ as they say in the display trade, H&M usually do pretty good windows for a high volume, high turnover retailer. They refrain from over-egging their windows. A hand picked selection of fashion cheapie but cheery must-haves will usually give good window all on their ownsome.
But I do like a strategic prop. The history of minimal propping in window displays goes back to the small high-end boutiques of the Parisian Art Deco period. Art and fashion and display were talking – visually speaking – to each other. The ‘ordinary’ object was objectified, allowed to exist in it’s own right. A shoe could be considered art, so needed nothing more than a stand and perhaps a tasteful price card. So the ‘narrative’ window display and the ‘mass’ window display gained an artistic sibling. The Surrealists also had a hand (disembodied, of course) in display developments. Juxtapositions of things contradictory gave irony and humour and new life to mundane things.
So we have the (often) small thing within a window display that reassigns meaning to the merchandise it partners. You more often see this sort of display in places like the Paul Smith shop in Floral Street. A big plastic dinosaur roaring over a small pair of cufflinks. Big shops like H&M build big display campaigns and ship them all over the world.
A small intervention, perhaps, but these small wooden mannequins – in their mini-me outfits – have bought H&M’s broad swathes of glass a bit of artistic detail, animation and humour.
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