This year’s been a bit of a poor show on the shop display front. Even Urban Outfitters have gone for that spray-on snow in a can that come January, is more persistent than a failed online date you made the mistake of friending on Facebook before the first date.
The theme this year seems to be alpine scenes, with clothing covered in fake snow (not sure why I specified ‘fake’, as though there were frozen shops manned by shivery sales assistants trying to make blue fingers the new black). But despite festive frosting scattered everywhere, the scenes are all inside the alpine lodges. I’m not sure where these roofless resorts are meant to be but I imagine Stacy Solomon will do the adverts for them — what with her having very little going on upstairs too.
But in amongst the wintry retail wasteland, there are a few gems. Coincidentally, two of them are in miniature — maybe I’m impressed by small things [insert innuendo here].
Ian Allan Bookshop
Most commuters walk past this little shop every day without noticing it. But if you find yourself not running manically for your train up the Piccadilly station approach, check it out. It’s a ruddy delight.
Imagine a Christmas carnival scene, with bustling crowds, twinkling lights and moving fairground rides. Then imagine it again, but the size of Verne Troyer’s little finger. As model railway specialists, their window display is teeny too. Look closely enough and you might even spot a tiny young scallywag running away from a tiny Curry’s with a tiny TV under his arm.
I love model railways. They make you feel like Zeus, gazing down at the ant people on earth below. If you’re ever feeling insignificant and need an ego boost, you can do worse than looking at a model railway and shouting “Fear me, minions!”. Try it yourself on Piccadilly Approach.
They’re well known for pushing the festive boat out when it comes to window displays. But this year, Ted Baker are pushing a lot more out — notably two huge snowman buttocks bursting out of a skimpy thong. That alone would have been enough to make Aled Jones’ voice break five years early. But once you consider that the pole-dancing snowman is also gyrating and inanely grinning, you’ll be cranking the hairdryer heat setting up to eleven and blasting it into its terrifying face. I’ve not seen anything as cold or scary since Arnie’s performance as Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin.
The big question is what happens to the Ted Baker displays after December? I appreciate the retail festive season starts in March, but all that window dressing madness must eventually go into storage. Is there a warehouse in Trafford Park packed full of 6ft quivering turkeys and possessed snowmen that come alive when the lights go out? I’ll be asking for a crucifix, string of garlic and warm wooden stake next Christmas — just in case.
Think I’m overreacting? See for yourself on the Manchester Shambles.
Links of London
A display doesn’t need to be all-singing, all-(pole)dancing to spark Christmas nostalgia. Links of London have given us eight windows in one via lots of tiny tableaux. Making the products (all shiny things) the star of the show, each shows a traditional London scene, as imagined by a two-parter BBC Dickensian drama.
Of course, you can achieve the same effect by standing further away from window displays of a standard size. But I think we should applaud Links of London for not conforming to the usual jewellery shop windows — typically black and white photos of couples, both looking down and apparently finding whatever they see down there hilarious. Or the classic oversized plastic diamond surrounded by 20 actual diamond rings, so we don’t get confused about what kind of shop it is and go in enquiring about 5mm rawl plugs. Go see at St Anne’s Square.
Gemma Wildgoose (@gemwildgoose)