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  • Writer's pictureLinda Cahan

More or Less

Linda Cahan

Thanks to Anthropologie, highly complicated displays became normal and expected in large store windows. To their credit, their displays were (and are) consistently beautifully done. Of course, these displays involved a lot of time, energy, and people to accomplish which is not something every retailer has at their disposal. I’ve collected photos of window displays for over 35 years and some of my faves have been super simple, inexpensive and a breeze to install.

The most important things for an effective window display are:

• The display must work for the image and brand of your store

• The merchandise must be enhanced by the display

• Ideally, you should have backup stock for whatever you’re displaying in your window

• The face of the display and merchandise must be lit day and night by LED spotlights.

Normally, I’d write more but photos are worth 1000 words – which is great and way easier than trying to describe everything!

Anthropologie, Tigard, OR, many years ago

Each of these rocks was hand-tied by some lucky people with lots of patience. Have you ever tried to tie a rock? Hot glue helps but it gets messy. This window forms the ultimate focal point for the mannequin and red dress. This is a minions window – you’ll need them to accomplish this!

Seen in a window in Prague, CZ. KOH-I-NOOR Vodickova stationery and art supply store

More really is more here and kinda fabulous! Would I want to make this, nope – just not that detail oriented plus my attention span wouldn't allow it. But, would I want it in my store – absolutely! Dusting it could be an issue. But perhaps if it was constructed in pieces and can be dragged where the dust can be blown off?

This creates a memory in people walking by and is tactile for those in the store. Is every pencil sharpened? Nosy customers need to know. It is truly a show-stopper! Interestingly, other than showing all your merchandise neatly and organized, once you have something like this in the front of the store, it sets the OMG mood for the shopping experience. You've created an indelible first impression.

Selfridges? Harvey Nichols? Harrods?, around 10 years ago

My brother Bill Cahan sent me this photo when he was in London. This was the first time I saw pencils used to build a display and I love it! I imagine it, or something like it inspired the gorilla (ape?) at Koh-i-noor Vodickova.

Bergdorf Goodman, NYC ages ago – Fifth Avenue windows

More is more and the artistry of their 5th Avenue windows makes shopping during the holidays a special visual treat. Several very big, gorgeous and expensive books have been written about these iconic windows. Once you walk around either corner of the store you'll see equally creative but much less expensive and extensive displays.

Bergdorf Goodman, NYC ages ago – 57th Street side window

I have always loved this little side window. The cream coming out of the silver creamer is curled paper. The only thing that makes me a little crazy is that the ribbon should be steamed. Oh well, it’s aways much easier to second-guess and critique rather than actually doing it!

Crane’s Stationery, Seattle, WA – so long ago, this was originally a photograph from film.

I’ve joked that if this display took more than 10 minutes to install, the person took a lunch break in-between Teddies. It has always worked for several reasons: repetitive images are sophisticated and easy to “read”, it’s sweet and we need sweet now (and have for ages), and it’s artistically smart as the angles of the cards give the static display movement and energy.

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