Edgar Allan Poe, the famed American author, once wrote, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” And for the people who create window displays, it’s a statement that certainly rings true.
For visual merchandisers, window displays are more than just visual entry points into a store. They’re striking, aspirational statements designed to capture shoppers’ imaginations and communicate not just a brand vision, but a lifestyle.
Because of that, visual merchandisers have to work double duty as both designers and masters of illusion, crafting stunning displays that seem easily inhabitable.
One way to do that is by toying with perspective, and as these examples illustrate, there’s more to it than simply understanding a shopper’s physical viewpoint.
1. Size Matters
Want to wow with your window displays? Try messing around with the size of items in your displays, as Fendi did with this series that incorporated huge hands to make their designer handbags stand out. Not only does its surreal look guarantee a second glance, but the otherworldly orientation creates a strong focal point. (Here’s an eye-catching example from the people at Bloomingdale’s, as well as Harvey Nichols, who incorporated humongous headphones to channel a vibe similar to the Swinging Sixties.)
2. Another Point of View
Typically, window displays are positioned along a horizontal plane, and there’s a good reason for that: they match up with your eyeline, meaning that whether you’re across the street or shopping center, you can get a clear view of what’s on display.
But, increasingly, visual merchandisers are experimenting with vantage points, particularly bird’s-eye views, to take their displays to new heights. Macy’s channeled Santa Claus on his sleigh (or, for those less imaginative, a bird on a building) with this winter wonderland, but Diesel took things up a notch with this display depicting a person dreaming of the perfect pair of jeans.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the unfathomable depths Zegna’s creative team plunged to craft this swimming sensation (see below).
3. Think Inside the Box
Compartmentalizing is a great way to help shoppers focus on individual parts of your displays by breaking them up into viewable chunks. And it works, whether they take explicit forms (like Westfield Woden did last summer with these boxed-in floral displays fit for an art gallery) or more nuanced ones (Tods put the spotlight on accessories by removing the majority of their mannequins from their displays).
As Hermès demonstrated below, breaking the mold is a must if you want major attention, so play the perimeter and experiment with a variety of shapes and styles within it.
4. Strike a Pose
Mannequins are designed with blank, uniform appearances because, at their essence, they’re conduits — articulated dolls that can be easily altered and act as a physical representation of you, the shopper. And, because of their high price point, most of them are pretty plain (they’re meant to be used again and again).
But sometimes they take on a different shape in a surprising explosion of movement, depicting everything from a day at the gym to the end of a yoga session and beyond. It can be a bit of a balancing act, but when done right it’s hard not to fall for them — afterward, you’ll be unable to look at another display the same way again.