Friday, June 29, 2007

London review 3.

3. Covent gardens and Soho including china town.

There is always alot to see in this part of London city centre. And you really do need a sense of adventure as most of the great places are tucked away behind the main streets. Many mid size chain stores appear in the covent gardens area due to the touristy nature of the place, however if you walk away from the tube and walk down into neals yard you begin to discover some great little shops.

Two-see is always a winner in VM with their eclectic mix of designers (preen, burfitt to name a couple) Last time i went in they had all these horrid looking stuffed birds and glass domes covering their jewellery, needless to say i was pretty impressed:) This time, the avant garde fashion was matched to the interior. Large cartoon cats that appeared on the clothing also appeared in the window and in response to the sculptural and belted mens looks, they had taped up most of their mirrors with electrical tape.. it made you wonder if the mirror had shattered or it was just a frantic flight of fancy by the shop folk:) very fun..

Two doors down we find Coco la Mer, where this last visit, i was greeted by rope bound mannequins hung from the ceiling.. Inside, the old gold full-frontal mannequin was noticeably missing, but the rest of the boudoir was as lavish as ever. Chantal Thomas lingerie was hung sparingly on racks with the new range of bondage style leather accessories, books about fetish culture and art sit alongside sleepwear and feather ticklers..just gorgeous.

Not surprisingly the high street stores again failed to charm in this area, and overall I found the covent garden vibe a little commercial. Nice to see Paul smiths floral st windows filled with horseshoes to play up the opening of the new shoe store. They always do have a slightly left of field view of the world:)

Soho was packed with grungy little street stores, but that is the charm. I loved Cosh gallery with their street art and Japanese art prints.I really liked the layout of the tiny gallery, as there is not that many prints, but each one is beautifully considered and given room to shine. The knee high black 'c o s h' letters, that can be moved around the space, add a sculptural element to otherwise a wall art based gallery. The folk in here were really lovely and the art was quality contemporary work:)

China town was a wash of cheap wears and flashing lights but it gave me a sense of being back home in Sydney (in that there were plenty of nasty cheap things to be found, in the various warehouse style shops, to use en-mass in some fun window display.)

My favourite place here is not a shop but the lady making the fresh dumplings in the window of her dumpling shop. Its such a methodical and meditative thing and its lovely to watch.. even nicer to go inside and get some steamed for a cheap lunch.

Again, apologies for the superficiality of the sum-up of this area, but its such a diverse region and I'm sure you could go on for ages!
Have a great weekend,
See you monday!

thanks to the anonymous commenter! much appreciated!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

London review 2.

so back to the London review.
2. Harvey Nichols, Harrods and sloane sq.

In this part of london we find the flagship stores of most of the luxury market. As such, most of the displays can be viewed in your own home town.
The biggest difference here to Sydney is that the large open window spaces, with smartly placed key accessories, lineup one after the other on Sloane st and the impact is impressive.

As always the VM in these stores is less than exciting with the beauty of the product taking up all the attention, but at 3000 pounds a bag, i guess that the rest of the space should be left plain:)

Having said that, as always the fashions are beautiful, the stores are immaculate both inside and out and there is a tangible air of austerity that befits these fashion powerhouses.

Harvey Nichols and Harrods provide the decorative elements in this area. Highly considered window displays and facades always are a key to these two department stores, who both have held the title (perhaps now held by selfridges in the public mind) of the best windows in London.

Harrods is always as amazing inside as its windows are, and as such i will discuss the harvey nichols windows of the last visit as they were quite different to usual.

The display at Harvey Nichols was a huge set of perfume displays, the entire size of the windows, to promote Tom Fords newest perfume range. It was amazing to see what is traditionally a small scale display done to this size. The repetition and imagery was very well done in light box style and i found this reinterpretation of scale very powerful. It also points to the return to the public eye of one of the heads of the fashion industry, which is great.

All in all, (as always)a very successful piece of Windowdressing, although i was a little disappointed to miss the usual eclectic and traditional window displays, such as this one from sept 06:

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The side windows were more typical of the displays i have seen the last few times with graphic elements and small props interacting with few mannequins and flat lays/accessories.

More tomorrow!

Interlude: mannequins in history

Just a quick interlude from the London Review today, i will get back onto it tomorrow, but i found this little article on the history of mannequins at and found it rather enlightening!

Dressmaker forms have been around since the time of the Egyptian pharoahs. It is documented that when Carter opened King Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922, he discovered a wooden torso not far from a clothing chest. Dating from 1350 B.C., it may have been the world's first dress form. (From Smithsonian Magazine)

After the dress form, history has been a little sketchy. The next documented story was in 1396. It is said that Charles VI of France was involved in peace negotiations with King Richard II of England.

Henry IV of France dispatched miniature, elegantly attired dolls to his fiancée, Marie de' Medici of Florence, to update her on French trends.

And Marie Antoinette kept her mother and sisters in Austria apprised of the latest vogues at Versailles with the elaborately clothed figures she regularly sent them.

During the 1700s, "fashion dolls" were used to spread the "latest fashion." With its size ranging from 1 inches, to lifesize, historians agree that the fashion dolls were the progenitor of the modern mannequin.

Very few fashion dolls exist today, because they were reused until they are literally in tatters, or given to a child as a toy.

During the Middle Ages, France was a fashion capital, as it is today. Hence, the French is sometimes credited with the creation of the first full-figured mannequin.

Monday, June 25, 2007

London review 1.

Hi all,
I just come back from a week in London. As always there is a lot to see, and the size of the city limits you to what you can do per day. I managed to split the central city into 4 areas for 4 days:

1. Liberty/Carnaby/Newburgh st.

2. Harvey Nichols/Harrods and Sloane Sq.
3. Covent gardens and Soho including china town.
4. Marylebone High st/ Selfridges and new bond st areas (oxford high st on the way).

Unfortunately, i got sick and didn't get to Portobello Rd or Brick Lane & Knightsbridge, all areas which i feel also should be included in any VM map of the city.

Over the next 4 days i'll go over each area and what i saw and felt there. So to begin:
1. Liberty/Carnaby/Newburgh st.

A generally great area for shopping and VM. Liberty has surrounded itself with wonderfully creative examples of street level fashion and contemporary designs. As a 29 yr old it fits me to a tee.. so much so, i felt like i had walked into a target market.... Liberty itself is a great place for viewing well presented merchandise (mainly high end fashion on the first few floors ) and alluring displays throughout. The luxury of the store is punctuated by quirky and whimsical displays, like the forearms of mannequins sticking out like coat hooks from the wall holding all sorts of wonderfully expensive bags and coats and scarves.. The window displays this time were quite subdued and product based, but here is a pic of quintessential liberty's from my last visit in Sept 06'

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Liberty is very theatrical, but imagination and wonder rests in the little stores tucked around this area... Personal favourites include Beyond the Valley, Concrete and 59. All have a great sense of merchandising, shop designs that include quirky features that elevate and interact with the stock and innovations in what a store provides in terms of merchandise and experience.

I'll focus on Beyond the Valley as the example of the stores in the area...
Here, new artists and designers have the opportunity to display short run, 'before mass- manufacture' style items, each with a sense of purpose and imbued with all the time and effort it took to make them.

The day i was at Beyond the Valley, half the store was being transformed into a new art installation. Its a great place to see the beginning what everyone else will pick up in 2 years time:) The shop itself is half gallery and half shop and the change rooms are part of a wonderful collage of old chests of drawers and bookshelves that cover the entire wall. Very cool.
It was particularly nice to see the inclusion of Kyo Hashimoto jewellery and Donna Wilson toys, both of whom were also a part of my own pop up shop Seasonal Fruits.

I'm sorry to have to be so brief, i'd be happy to discuss the area further in future posts but for now, its enough to take in:)

all the best,

Suggested links:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

i am Eva, currently the Head of Visuals and displays for Belinda International in Australia. ( I work on all levels of display design and installation as well as the occasional pop-up shop and public art installation..
The plan for this blog is to provide information for windowdressers/window display designers/ visual merchandisers or whatever other titles they decide to give us, on trends i have seen through my travels, latest catwalk collections and our art of display.
Hope you all enjoy!

To begin with, over the next week i will cover my latest trip to london and the displays i was influenced by.
I'll see you all tomorrow.