As written for LondonCalling.com
The official countdown to Christmas has begun, waking up each morning eagerly for that next piece of chocolate in your advent calendar and store windows across the capital are now lit up with their own take of the festivities. Let’s take a look at a selection of creative and eye-catching apertures that should keep you in the spirit when traipsing through the crowds this month to get those last minute gifts.
Fortnum & Mason
(Nearest Station: Piccadilly Circus)
The home of Christmas since 1707, Fortnum & Mason are delivering a Christmas message with a higher purpose than simple commercial gain. After twelve months in which events such as Brexit and the US election have split opinions and divided friends, families, generations and even nations, Fortnum’s Christmas campaign ‘Together We’re Merrier’ celebrates the importance of togetherness, and encourages the coming together of family, friends and even foes at Christmas.
A series of nine stories detail the partnerships of classic arch-enemies with charming outcomes: like The Bull and The China, The Butcher and The Turkey, The Wolf and The Sheep, and The Boy and the Brussel Sprouts. Beautifully arranged and full of colour, Fortnum’s witty windows will warm your heart.
Fun fact: Each story, specially illustrated by artist Brett Ryder, has been expertly hand-sculpted into 3D versions, which were then intricately painted by theatre makeup artists.
(Nearest Station: Oxford Circus)
With 15 million people expected to walk past the iconic Liberty store just off Regent Street, they certainly haven’t failed with their enticing windows this year. In partnership with The Royal Ballet, an incredible company with an illustrious heritage, Liberty are throwing out their tradition of displaying products and dedicating their window spaces to scenes from The Royal Ballet’s festive masterpiece, The Nutcracker.
The Liberty Nutcracker window scenes feature a rotating Clara at the Christmas party; the colourful World of Drosselmeyer (magician and creator of the mechanical toys); the Kingdom of Snow; The Sugar Garden in the Kingdom of Sweets and The Nutcracker’s battle with the Mouse King. Escape into this magical world before meandering back through the busy streets of the West End.
Fun fact: The Nutcracker ballet dates back to 1892 and although not deemed a success in the first instance became very popular amongst ballet companies around the world from the 1960s.
(Nearest Station: Knightsbridge)
Luxury retailer Harvey Nichols have gone with dramatic and theatrical Italian themed Christmas displays in celebration of the brand’s winter campaign, ‘Britalia’ – Italy, curated by Harvey Nichols. The windows take inspiration from the famed renaissance architecture with the exterior of the store’s façade adorned with marbled columns, synonymous with the cultural heritage of Italy’s ancient Rome.
Behind the glass, an elaborate stage set conjures up wonderment and Christmas magic. Heavy draping crafted from reels of paper echoes the theatrical stage sets of Italian operas, while performing mannequins and a spectacular lighting display transports viewers into another realm. The windows also transform from day-time to night-time, with different lighting states and a “bad-santa” appearing, helping himself to a carafe of wine.
Fun fact: The windows feature elaborate chandelier’s, garlands, candelabras and cumulus clouds engineered using 100,000 transparent and ice white balls.
(Nearest Station: Bond Street)
With the Shine On! theme as the driving energy behind Selfridges’ Christmas offer this year, their windows are a kaleidoscope of dazzle, glitter and fun. Stylistically, the theme is rendered with bold sophistication and a nostalgic retro hint – ultra-gloss white, bright reds, sky blue, iridescent, neon colours, confetti and metallic abound. Think Jeff Koons at an Alpine rave in Palm Springs….an unconventional Christmas which says “Happy” very loudly. Selfridges’ alternatively decorated 11 windows were the first in town to wave in Christmas back on the 20 October and certainly puts the party in Christmas with five windows featuring a state-of-the-art sound system, which uses the vibration of the glass pane to produce music. Each of the five windows has its own special Christmas soundtrack that matches perfectly the mood of the window it scores.
Fun fact: The Santa suits displayed in each Oxford Street window and in-store were completely hand-made in Bali and handstitched with over 6,000 sequins equalling 3kg in weight. It took 6 people 12 days to complete each suit.
(Nearest Station: Oxford Circus)
Probably one of the most spoken about Christmas campaigns amongst the retail giants is John Lewis’. From The Man on the Moon last year to being firmly underground this Christmas with Buster the Boxer, John Lewis plays on the idea of the secret life of pets. Unlikely friendships are seen between two foxes, a badger, a squirrel, and a hedgehog who joyfully bound on little Bridget’s new trampoline in their frosty garden. Buster, a young dog feels left out watching from the patio doors but on Christmas morning runs out ahead of Bridget and has his turn. The windows take inspiration from this fun alternate reality where animals can be seen getting up to the unlikeliest of things, taking selfies and making mischief whilst Buster watches from above. If you look closely at one of the burrows you can also see a fox skiing!
As part of John Lewis’s 2016 campaign a donation to The Wildlife Trusts will be made from the sale of soft toys of the characters which feature in the advert. The retailer has also worked with the charity on a number of fun, educational tools which will be available online, to encourage more children to develop an interest in British wildlife.
Fun fact: John Lewis’s Christmas campaign was so eagerly awaited that days before it was unveiled on Thursday 10 November nearly 400,000 people had watched an imitation advert by the Sunday before, created by A-level student Nick Jablonka who studied the retailer’s adverts for his coursework.
Image credit: Harlequin