I’m putting it out there… I am no fan of Debenhams. I look out at the Oxford Street store’s American skyscraper-style metallic ripple effect frontage every day and I’m still no fan. Admittedly the £40 million revamp last year massively elevated the global flagship from a very low base, but in my humble opinion it’s still a mid-range high street department store and it doesn’t excite me, fill me with promise or do anything to lure me in, despite being close, and therefore convenient, to the office. However, I have over the last month had to eat a few crumbs of humble pie every day because the window displays have been up there with the best of London’s department stores.
Currently each of the flagship store’s windows is curated to look like a US 1950’s supermarket aisle, themed in a specific colour, with mannequins dressed and accessorised from head to toe in the same colour palette. Props are oversize visuals of simple packs, again working the 1950’s theme and within the same colour palette. Unusually, the displays aren’t focused on Debenham’s merchandise which take a more back-seat role in this production. And yet strangely enough, because the windows themselves are eye-catching and intriguing enough to warrant a second look, you find yourself being drawn in, wanting to discover what it’s about, instead of bypassing the blandness and sameness which is so often the case with the store’s window dressing. It’s a pretty simple idea and yes, its probably relatively low budget, but the execution is spot-on and so you don’t give the money they have or haven’t thrown at it, a thought.
I’m sure it won’t be long before the 1950’s kitschness is replaced with reindeer, snowmen, sledges and fake snow or some other obvious and done-a-million-times before seasonal pastiche, but I’m rather hoping that the window-display team are on a more creative and visually exciting trajectory from now on. It might just perk up a whole new audience!
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