This weekend’s royal celebrations have been marked by many retailers with window schemes that offer rather more than kind hearts and coronets.
Here’s an equation: x = (4 corgis x 3 crowns) + 10 Union Jacks. Actually, this is a lot easier than the kind of algebra that most of us will have suffered at some point in the past and the answer in this instance is, of course, for retailers, x = the Diamond Jubilee.
And if you want to know how many corgis are required to make a decent display to mark the occasion, the solution, sticking with the algebraic metaphor, is ∞ (infinity – do keep up) as it appears you really can’t have too many of the small Welsh canines at present. Corgis are everywhere, whether it’s the ones wearing Union Jack waistcoats in Ted Baker windows or those that appear to have donned pork pie hats and cool shades, as seen in River Island.
The dominant motif, however, as might be expected, is the Union flag, which is nearly ubiquitous, although in-window pride of place probably goes to Bhs, which takes the Jubilee party theme and runs with it. It’s the mid-market in particular that uses the Union Jack as this is a relatively cheap way of marketing the occasion. Head further up the scale and things change with Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and to an extent Liberty, all opting for a nostalgia fest.
It is left to Harrods to strike a truly regal note with the bulk of its Brompton Road frontage used as a showcase for regal headgear.
Mention should perhaps also be made of George at Asda. In the newly remodelled department in its Bolton branch, which has been garnering impressive figures, care has been taken to group red, white and blue clothing together and then to throw in the odd piece of Union Jack clothing. It works effectively even although there are not that many Jubilee-specific items in the range.
Predominant themes Union Jacks, corgis, street parties and all-round nostalgia
Merchandise Red, white and blue features, but not all of it is overtly Jubilee-themed
Footfall Indications are that those retailers that launched their Jubilee in-store shops early have been reaping the rewards
Marks & Spencer, Oxford Street
The Marble Arch flagship uses a combination of red, white and blue-clad mannequins, an abstracted Union Jack and a series of small, open-sided display plinths bearing patriotic memorabilia. This is a perfectly acceptable iteration of what’s going on in the high street – there is nothing too startling about what has been done, but it does chime with the general tenet of retail and things Diamond Jubilee related. It is also, like so many of Marks & Spencer’s windows, a simple scheme capable of replication at the doff of a bowler hat.
And praise where praise is due for the in-store Jubilee product displays – along with John Lewis, the Union Jack themed area (for that it is what it is) in the Stratford store is one of the most arresting in the Westfield mall.
Harvey Nichols, Kensington
A display that does not lean too heavily on the Union Jack is to be found at Harvey Nichols, which has turned each of its windows into a shopfront from yesteryear with tongue-in-cheek names for each store, ranging from Harvey Nickers – a lingerie store, to Well Heeled, a shoe shop.
Harvey Nichols makes the Jubilee link explicit with its pair of corgis rampant (each with a Union Jack neckerchief) either side of a shield divided into four with sunglasses, shoes, a belt and a piece of jewellery for each quadrant.
As a loyal and yet contemporary take on this weekend’s festivities, this is one of the cleverer examples. The windows were unveiled in early April, making this an early arrival on the Jubilee panorama.
Bhs, Oxford Street
Events connected with the royal family often seem to ignite street party fervour, but Bhs taps into this tradition. The only difference between this window and a real celebration of the kind is that none of the participants are alive. The trestle tables, bunting and cushions with bulldog graphics on them are all perfectly on royal brand.
Even the legend ‘Celebrate a very British summer at Bhs’ is simple, perhaps somewhat marred by the fact that the unseasonably cool Sunday when the Oxford Street store was visited had resulted in its being accompanied by a sign shouting: ‘This Weekend Only All Summer Living At Least 50% Off’. Certainly the most flag-waving of the windows along Oxford Street, however, and perhaps celebrating a ‘very British summer’ really does mean enduring highly changeable weather.
Selfridges, Oxford Street
Oxford Street’s grande dame takes a nostalgic look at the last 60 years with each of its windows carrying a reminder of some aspect of what typified particular stages of the era. From the smartly turned out, but caddish-looking mannequin in a 1950s bar, to the Pearly king and queen sitting in a regally appointed greasy spoon, each window tells its own story. There’s even a scene featuring a group of builders having a cuppa at a construction site. Detail is all and the fact that one of the builders is bending over, exposing some Dagenham cleavage, aka ‘Builder’s Bum’, shows the sense of humour at play.
There is an argument that many tourists probably won’t pick up on all of the British in-jokes that are at the heart of this scheme. But equally, there is a sense that Harrods directly targets the tourist with its windows rather more than Selfridges does and that this series of windows is for locals as much as visitors.
Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly
The Jubilee-inspired windows at Fortnum & Mason have been in place for much longer than many of its commercial rivals; the scheme was unveiled in February.
A spokeswoman says that this is the longest that any window display scheme will ever have been in place at the store – it is scheduled to remain for most of the summer. Yet the windows still possess the ability to turn the heads of those passing along Piccadilly. The displays feature brightly coloured reinterpretations of heraldic beasts with harp-playing golden gryphons, scarlet unicorns and turquoise lions having a window each and all combining to create a fabulous mythical vista. Perhaps encouragingly, there is no mistaking the underlying royal celebratory intent, although there is not a Union Jack in sight.
Like the other big department stores, Harrods has gone its own way when it comes to marking the monarch’s 60th year on the throne. And although there are Union Jacks above the main entrance, 31 of the windows (the overwhelming majority) along the Brompton Road frontage feature coronets and crowns. Each elaborate piece of headwear is set on a plinth and has its own window, with the name of the company that designed it on the plinth.
Those responsible for the crowns have been drawn from the worlds of food, fashion, beauty and jewellery with names such as Paul Smith, Lanvin, Tiffany and Dom Pérignon all featuring. The window surround for each crown is red and carries a more standard looking crown in the form of a window decal.
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