Opinion

Luxury VM London


By Karl McKeever | 27.11.19

Festive Finery


“It’s the most wonderful time of year…” and nowhere more so than in our nation’s capital. Synonymous with high-end retailers, London is a haven for festive shopping. Its rich and impressive reputation rests largely on the history and inviting appeal of luxury retailers such as Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges.

Luxury is all about the intricate finer detail, owning artistic license, and creating outputs that have richness, both in terms of materials used and captivating touchpoints. While clearly targeting shoppers with deeper pockets, the sense of Christmas magic they bring to the high street is lost on few shoppers.

Their approach to Christmas 2019 represents a celebration of creative diversity, as well as of the festive season itself. Christmas is the perfect excuse to go big. Some have chosen traditional, others apply a twist. The subtle, the quirky and the extravagant – there’s a place for all. Yet everyone shares a common link: establishing the UK as a source of great creative talent. From dramatic window reveals, to theatrical light displays and immersive shopping experiences, here’s our roundup of festive finery from Luxury London 2019.

 

Burberry – Regent Street

… together they form a symphony of sophisticated, seasonal colour…

With its dynamic architecture and double height atrium, the Burberry store is the height of luxury. Fittingly, the brand’s Christmas window campaign is suitably restrained, clean and simple; but no less dramatic for it.

In its windows, perfectly dressed bustforms suspended from the ceiling are accompanied by giant golden baubles. Once inside, its festive execution reaches new heights, thanks to the use of kitsch baby deer, nestled beautifully against accessory tables to evoke a heart-warming 1950’s Christmas card feel. Each is made to realistic scale and finished in a high gloss, caramel lacquered coat with fawn dappling – complete with a crisp, shiny, black button nose. The attention given to the bright and enchanting eyes and similarly enquiring head positions is both adorable and captivating. Each reindeer stands aside a berry red platform, which call out a single, beautiful gifting or accessory item. Seen together they form a symphony of sophisticated, seasonal colour that echoes the Burberry house check in stunningly cute retro style. Repetition is key to its impact, with the focal point at the front of the store creating a show-stopping entrance to the ever-beautiful backdrop of this flagship retail environment. Christmas warmth: without a hint of gaudiness.

 

Selfridges – Oxford Street

Every few years a major retailer diverts from the traditional Christmas look. This year Selfridges have done just that. In recent years Santa has been the star attraction in its windows, whether as a glam rocker or Palm Springs raver. Not so in 2019. Gone too is the traditional colour palette.

Christmas is the perfect excuse to go big. This year’s theme is “Future Fantasy” tales. Unlike its peers, it has shunned the tradition, instead reimagining much-loved fairy tales with a quirky ultramodern twist. Cinderella this time donning fluorescent trainers with the fairy time ball recreated as a daytime rave – the modern interpretation making for a unique theme throughout the store. The secret to the success of the execution lies in its ability to be deeply nostalgic, as Christmas should be, but in a way that is different and truly captivating.

… there is no denying that it is both elegant and elevated.

While the interior scheme may not appeal to traditionalists, there is no denying that it is both elegant and elevated. Silver iridescent text features heavy throughout the Christmas shop, taking on board the narrative. Mannequins have been turned into snow queens, adorned with silver headwear and based around silver encrusted boulders. Meanwhile, giant wreaths have been updated with new signage and feature striking blue LED tube lighting.

The storytelling continues throughout, culminating in The Fantasy Snowdome – a life-sized snow globe – in the fashion department. Selfridges has organised a programme of instore events for families throughout the festive period including dance spectaculars in the atrium in the evenings, all part of its plans to make the store a vibrant must-see destination for Christmas shoppers.

Service levels are in abundance. None more so than the ‘Elfridges’ team that are on hand to provide attentive one-to-one service to help customers buy magical gifting for their little ones.

 

Harrods – Burlington Arcade

… a treasure trove for those seeking examples of fine presentation standards.

Perhaps the most famous of all UK Christmas retail destinations, Harrods has used the 200-year anniversary of Burlington Arcade as the backdrop for launching ‘The Kingdom of Christmas’; its festive pop-up store. Clearly targeted at tourists, this temporary store contains a vast array of gift foods, hampers, seasonal decorations and exclusive merchandise including the iconic Harrods Bear.

Perfectly formed in every way, the store is perfectly aligned to the Harrods brand and has unmistakeable ties to the department store. It may be a small space and possibly the most decorated in London but it achieves a cosy festive feel – intelligently laid out with most of the product featured on the walls, leaving lounge areas free for customers to dwell within. It’s also a treasure trove for those seeking examples of fine presentation standards. With matching packaging across a wealth of different types of food and wine, in merchandising terms, it does not disappoint, delivering levels of perfection that are hard to find elsewhere.

 

Fortnum & Mason – The Royal Exchange/Somerset House

The most British of retail emporiums, Fortnum’s is recognised for English luxury. And Christmas is when this is renowned purveyor of fine foods, hampers, teas and wine really comes into its own.

The entire façade of its Piccadilly store has been turned into a four-storey advent calendar for 2019. A jaw-dropping spectacle, it is designed to delight tourists and children through imaginatively curated windows, intricate detailing and fun animated characters.

… celebrating the season of friends, family, feasting and entertaining…

This brands biggest strength however, is in its scalable approach to its campaigns. Partnering with Skate at Somerset House for the fifth year running, the retailer has once again been able to amplify its message of celebrating the season of friends, family, feasting and entertaining with the finest food, drink and gifts. Housed in the West Wing at Somerset House, Fortnum’s Lodge offers the chance to sample traditional winter warmers, delicious dishes and tempting drinks après-skate. The halo effect from this tie-up and its main retail location in Piccadilly extends to its other ‘mini’ London store locations at St Pancras and The Royal Exchange.

Instore, the immaculate presentation across a range of ‘Best of British’ treats entice you to indulge, with the smell and taste of tea and panettone freshly being offered in the tiniest of china vessels for the perusing shopper, adding to the whole ambience of wealth and luxury that is clearly displayed by the shopper basket size of visiting tourists.

 

Penhaligon’s – Regent Street

In luxury retail, where brands often opt for the subtle and minimal, Penhaligon’s Christmas execution stands out from the crowd. Thought the old English elegance oozes heritage and quality, its ‘Naughty or Nice’ campaign and instore visual merchandising is delivered in a way that is bold, confident and playful in its execution.

Products are lovingly curated, as ever, backed up by stellar service…

Illustration is used to full effect – something that has become synonymous with the brand. Window displays vary dependant upon location but maintain the same overriding theme, reading as a storybook as you connect with each one that will ensure shoppers stop, stare and are drawn in. Meanwhile, the use of props and POS instore are simple but no less effective, with high impact shelf talkers and ribbon wrapped boxes in traditional gold, red and green. Products are lovingly curated, as ever, backed up by stellar service, with knowledgeable assistants present to explain the concepts behind the scents. The result could not be more personal or festive, ensuring few are likely to leave without a perfectly gift-wrapped product in hand, or smile on their face.

 

Ralph Lauren – Bond Street

… the window scheme is elegant, and perfectly encapsulates the brand.

With its heritage fixtures, dark wood panelling and tartan furniture, Ralph Lauren’s all-American aesthetic lends itself perfectly to the festive season. The addition of Ralph’s coffee bar at the entrance to the store means customers can stay a while and soak up the atmosphere. With tables nestled between rooms, shoppers are able to sit down and sip cappuccinos from branded cups in way that feels truly connected to the space – cosy and cossetted.

It may not be groundbreaking but the window scheme is elegant, and perfectly encapsulates the brand. More importantly, the transition from the windows through to instore is seamlessly executed, with products grouped and relevantly merchandised to deliver a cohesive narrative that takes the customer on a journey that flows effortlessly through all departments. In terms of visual merchandising, presentation is skilfully executed with a level of detail that is second to none.

From the understated to the indulgent and the quirky…

The standout theme from luxury retailers’ approach to Christmas 2019: there is no one single approach.

Shoppers rightly have high expectations of retailers at this time. No other time of year should spark imaginations quite like Christmas. Yet originality isn’t always the result.

It’s inspiring to see that many luxury retailers have chosen to think carefully about how they can meet expectations in a way that inspires, surprises and that best suits their brand, their voice and their customers. From the understated to the indulgent and the quirky; that each store looks and feels different should be celebrated.

The creative expression and freedom on display within ‘Luxury London’ reinforces the capital’s position as one of the premier trailblazing retail destinations on the planet. One that continues to be rich in diversity, originality and innovation – setting the benchmark for the rest of the UK high street, and others around the world, to look to for inspiration.

 

View more images from our Luxury London 2019 Roundup here.

 

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