Who needs an art gallery when you have shopping streets to wander down on a crisp spring day? As some people like to catch the latest blockbuster exhibition, I like to catch changing shop windows.
Hermes is the must-see. They do proper window display. A good window display should be knowing, witty, well crafted and more about the display than the product. This style of art-referenced, narrative yet minimalist window display was perfected in the fashionable small boutiques of Paris and London in 1930s. In part as a revolt against the ‘massed display’ where everything was piled high in the shop window, with no thought of ‘art’, it had appeal for a vendor keen to separate his offerings out from the ordinary. Such displays have once again become the province of the high-end boutique that can afford to indulge itself with a display budget, and wishes to be associated with craft values. Hermes does it so well and its variegated and – with the exception of the scarves – understated product lines lend themselves as tasteful props.
The latest display in the Sloane Street shop is a case in point. A garden in their window – delightful cardboard birds, milk bottles, insects and patterns printed onto piles of newspapers, dotted about with Hermes ceramic plates, fruit-shaped wallets and not much else.
The fleeting life of the window display and its commercial intent make it all the juicer to me. We’re back on to that old ephemerality theme here. Blink and you miss it.