Window Dressing

‘Window Dressing is an Art form – discuss’.  An interesting topic for a discussion forum perhaps. Maybe the best answer would be to hedge and say – yes, sometimes.

It depends. If, for example, you are selling office supplies then window dressing may be a perfunctory matter of advertising your merchandise and discounted prices  – nothing more than a window display really. If you are into fashion or other ‘glamorous’ high-end goods then you are more likely to have the potential – and the money – to create a window display that is visually exciting and innovative. And that is where the Window Dresser’s skill will come to the fore and the term ‘Art Form’ may justifiably be applied.

I enjoy photographing the Art that others produce – it’s an interesting challenge to extract the best from any artwork on public display or present it in a creative or unusual way and I’ve enjoyed extending that concept to Window Dressing.

The four images that follow are, in my opinion, evidence of an Art Form. They take very different approaches and you may well argue that some of these are not ‘Art’. But even if we can’t agree on that then perhaps we can agree that they are eye-catching.

First, the window of Pink, the shirt maker in Jermyn Street. A striking display in Blue.

Blue is the new Pink - click to enlarge

The Title ‘Blue is the new Pink’ came to me as I was taking the image.

Next the window of a modern furniture store selling brightly coloured office furniture.

Let's talk about colour - click to enlarge

The Typography itself is the Window Dressing and very dramatic it is too.

In the next image, it was the choice of view and the manipulation of reflections (sometimes very obtrusive) that has created a surreal object out of what was already an unusual and striking Mannequin cloaked entirely in black – enhanced by processing.

The Clutch Bag - click to enlarge

I struggled to come up with a suitable title for this.

Finally a striking painting of Charlie Chaplin fills the entire window of another shop front, stupidly I failed to notice how this related to the shop. Memo to self – carry a notebook!

Charlie Chaplin - click to enlarge

This is an Artwork in itself. I hope you’ve enjoyed these images. I’ve steered clear of major department stores deliberately in selecting these images – but maybe next Christmas I will take a look at them specifically.

If you’ve enjoyed this Post, you might also like an earlier post – ‘Window Snapping‘.

While looking up Window Dressing on the Net I came across a couple of interesting references.

First, a clip from an article by Katie Adie in Highlife  – a British Airways publication:

“The Swedes have raised window-dressing to an art form. Exquisite displays of the most mundane articles are on show as if they were Meissen china. A single gold ring will sit on a black cushion with just an orchid for company in a crystal vase. There’s none of the ‘cram it in and pile it high’ behaviour seen from London to Dubai. The Stockholm window should be a visual treat: a picture on the wall and lit in just the right warm colour.”

Second, a BBC radio 4 programme recently devoted a segment to discussing Christmas window displays. The online notes asked:

“Is window dressing an art form or simply crude merchandising? “

The participants: “agreed that both types existed, highlighting the extent to which large department stores across the world invest large sums on lavish displays that seek to endorse the image of the store and present its core values, as opposed to simple merchandising.”

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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13 Responses to Window Dressing

  1. ChrisdMRF says:

    Really dig what you did with the 3rd shot, surreal and sublime

  2. myallegro31 says:

    Nice, artsy shots! I love some Thomas Pink shirt! Wonderful color selections for the post as well!!

  3. Len Saltiel says:

    I agree with Chris. That third shot is quite amazing Andy. Interesting subject. I don’t think I have ever thought about window dressing as a subject. Nicely done.

  4. Dave DiCello says:

    Make it three for that third shot, that is just awesome with the reflections man. Nicely captured and a great write up as always!

  5. Great post Andy and great shots. You know you put a smile on my face. My Dad owned a textile store when I was growing up but he was a window dresser by trade and made up the window displays at a large textile store in Montreal in the late 60’s and 70’s. I never thought of him as an artist then but I remember that some of his displays were beautiful and I couldn’t figure how he created such lovely displays from rolls of textiles. I guess we need to be older and wiser to appreciate what was.

    • LensScaper says:

      What a fascinating comment, Edith. I am sure that the more we grow as Photographers, the more we see beauty and ‘images’ in things and scenes that the ordinary person just walks past. Thank you so much for posting that insightful comment. What a strange coincidence.

  6. Jimi Jones says:

    Fantastic images, Andy. Capturing window shots is not an easy task because of the reflections but you’ve nailed these quite nicely.

    These are works of art (IMHO) and I love capturing these types of shots. There is definitely a distinct level of skill required to be a window-dresser. Much like staging a house, if it doesn’t look interesting and wonderful on the outside, no one’s coming inside. 😉

    Nice work, man!

  7. Rick says:

    Very cool! Love that 3rd image!

  8. murphyz says:

    Nice post. I really like the windows for Paul Smith in Covent Garden, they usually have interesting displays that are definitely more art than sales.

  9. A.Barlow says:

    That’s pretty cool man. That last one is awesome. Chap was the man!

  10. Really cool shots, and such a great idea for a series of images and content.

  11. Marc says:

    Nice series and a great idea. I have some shots from Jermyn St, it has quite a few old fashioned mens suits shops which are certainly a thing of the past in london except for Saville Row, maybe.

  12. This is a very creative and quirky set of images.

Comments are closed.