I am fascinated by the recent spate of Alice in Wonderland retail schemes — inspired by the new Disney interpretation of Alice. Here is a review of three Alice in Wonderland window displays as seen in Cape Town, New York and Paris. Stop and ponder at how rich the incredible imagination of Lewis Carroll is as a source of inspiration for window displays and how his creative ability to tell a story continues to take both young and old on a curious journey.
Each window display shown here is a carefully imagined depiction that stimulates our visual perception taking us deeper into another world where the story gets bigger and the colours get brighter. Through the window our eyes enter into a magical place where anything is possible. I am in awe of the extent to which various retailers are willing to go in their efforts to recreate the imaginings of Lewis Caroll.
Starting with the Kalk Bay, Cape Town store: Mythology. Here we have an intricate window layered with handcrafted and painted wooden cut-outs, where in-store merchandise is used to fill in the story through metaphor and symbolism. A cut-out white rabbit rushes by in the background, while the caterpillar puffs away in the corner and even a flamingo croquet stick leans in the opposite corner. Clever details include candle rabbits inside tea cups on top of a hatbox shaped cushion and the red queen of hearts in a glass bell jar. This window epitomises the power of the use of imagination and metaphor to transform a small window into a wonderland. The Mythology team achieve all this while still remaining true to the old-world seaside village style of Kalk Bay.
A completely over the top, New York style treatment can be found in the recent Bergdorf Goodman “A Compendium of Curiosities” window scheme. Directed by David Hoey, these windows feature the finest attention to detail imaginable. Each window presents hundreds of visual elements each adding to a sumptuous visual feast. The scheme features five windows with individual themes. The Victorian mansion window shows Alice meeting the Cheshire cat while the white rabbit emerges from a door hidden below the finely detailed miniature mansion. The “Drink me” or “Stair case” window features a multitude of large and small wooden stair cases surrounding a full size Alice with miniature Alices in each tiny room. Paper is the central theme of the “Library” window. Everything is wrapped with or made from paper with an enormous typewriter providing one of the focal points. The piece of paper emerging from the typewriter includes the line “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast.” which could serve as a motto for the entire series of windows. The “Games” room is a decadent velvety red and black, almost boudoir like, scene. The window arrangement is unusual because the scene is viewed from above which gives a very different feel to the display. Last, but definitely no the least, is the “Mirror” room where everything including the Pamela Rowland gown worn by Alice is made from mirrors. A looking glass spectacular where everything is glamour and sparkle. The images in the following gallery are from the official store slideshow of the windows. Some very high resolution images can be found in this flickr photo set and some lovely detail shots are here.
From New York to Paris, Le Printemps, the Parisian department store presents a simpler, less complicated Alice. The backdrops are magnificent black and white scenes taken directly from the Disney Alice in Wonderland production directed by Tim Burton. On a clean white floor each of the windows has an all white, single large format visual prop referenced from the stories by Lewis Caroll. A mannequin, with a rabbit’s head, is positioned next to or on top of each of the props. The elegant simplicity of this scheme contrasts with the New York style Bergdorf Goodman’s opulent window display. Each Le Printemps window contains a garment designed by a different designer commissioned to create their own unique interpretation of Alice. Each of the mannequins is styled in the most flamboyant and eye-catching way. Magnificent! More on the designers who collaborated on the displays can be found here. The images in the following gallery are from the French blog Le Journal des Vitrines.