Because I enjoy walking, I’m always looking for interesting, visually stimulating places to go. One of my favorite walks takes me through the Plaza in Kansas City, our local upscale shopping theme park. What makes it a great area is the people watching, human scale of the buildings and lots of windows to peer into.
Earlier in the season I read that traditional colors and themes would be the rule for holiday merchandising so I started looking at Christmas displays to see how that panned out.
What I found in this year of “tough economic times” were several window displays using a cheap material—paper, specifically white paper—in designs that ranged from elegant to playful.
Tiffany’s created two gorgeous winter fantasy scenes out of only a few sheets of paper and added some subtly placed jewelry. The beautifully crafted scenes suggest the ephemeral nature of winter weather and fairy tales such as the “Snow Queen.” I think these would be rather irresistible to a woman, and solidify the romance of the Tiffany brand in her mind. Whether it works for a man, I would think not in the same way though she may want him to become prince to her princess dreams.
Our second window display was at the J. Crew store. I love how they took a roll of white paper, white lights and a few props to create a winter environment complete with paper icicles and glistening snow. Such a simple idea well executed! The casual texture of the crumpled white paper is a lovely backdrop that doesn’t visually overwhelm the informal classic clothing in front of it. The wintry white owls and other props give you a pleasant surprise.
Anthropologie used giant white, paper snowballs randomly arranged as a background for their fashions. The snowballs frame the clothes and sometimes almost hug them. While these snowballs may suggest cheerleading pompoms, overall I like the ragged, bursting quality of the arrangement. A quirky window dressing for an artsy brand.
Across the street, Urban Outfitters reinforced their image with a chaotic, urban interior design that included a haphazard arrangement of holiday lights in rooms cluttered with stuff. They used white paper strips in a vertical venetian blind configuration, to suggest icicles? I think it’s icicles. How do you stuff the messy edginess of a city in a window? They’re doing it.
And, just to go against the prevailing wisdom of 2009 holiday decor, Hall’s decides to go retro space-age. Hey, man, let’s get those boomers’ juices going with a Jetsons’ Christmas! Show the old cartoon and add some wacky lime, magenta, turquoise and blue baubles, funky type and requisite bald alien-looking mannequins dressed in trendy formal attire and you’re set. It’s always weird when an upscale store tries to be cool but it can be good for a laugh not to mention a “What were they thinking?” moment. It would be interesting to hear how this works out for Hall’s image. I wish I were a fly on the wall.