Tag Archives: visual merchandising

New York Fashion Week

9 Feb
Fall is texture, faux fur, loose knits, netting, embroidery. Multiple layers of fabrics that create color like a transparent watercolor painting (Chanel is right on the money) Fall is beautiful this year. The short jacket over body concious under pinnings, sexy, fun and luxe.

American Apparel …Just Plain Vulgar

18 Jan

I don’t even want to post the photos of the latest window display that American Apparel installed at their Houston Street Shop. I even hate to write this and give them the satisfaction of the publicity. Female mannequin anatomically correct right down [literally] to pubic hair is just plain vulgar.

I’ve been a visual merchandiser my entire life and in my younger days crossed a few line into bad taste but never anything as taboo as this. I am anything but prudish, and consider myself “modern” in the choices I make into display themes. The only consolation is that it’s just a window display and will soon disappear [none to soon for me]

The breasts I can deal with but the rest is just beyond my imagining.

The breasts I can deal with but the rest is just beyond my imagining.

Here’s the link….which I hesitate to post...http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/style/American-Apparel-mannequins-go-all-natural-Pubic-hair-shocks.html

Jack and Jackie..Icons of Camelot

16 Jan

5-JFK and Jackie When They Were ‘Dummies’  LIFE.com - Google Chrome 1162014 33429 PM

Retailers never miss an opportunity to capitalize on celebrity. The Kennedy White House was without a doubt a gold mind of possibilities. The 60’s was a breath of fresh air across the nation. After decades of old unattractive presidents and first ladies [Mamie Eisenhower] we had a young beautiful couple as leaders of the free world. John F. was a Harvard grad,Pulitzer prize winner and a war hero, the son of an ex Diplomat to England. Raised in Massachusetts his family summered on Cape Cod and played touch football on the lawn,very American and a very eligible bachelor. Jacqueline Bouvier attended Vassar College, (freshman and sophomore years, college)  University of Grenoble and Sorbonne, Paris, France (junior year abroad program through Smith College), George Washington University, Washington, D.C. (senior year, college), B.A. French literature. A very well turned out young woman.

They married in 1953 and founded the Camelot dynasty, Jack the youngest American president cut a dashing hat less figure and Jackie became the epitome of restrained good taste in all things. Every woman in America wanted to emulate the First Lady who adored all things French including her favorite designer Oleg Cassini. The Cassini’s appointment by Jacqueline Kennedy as her exclusive couturier in 1961 dubbed him her “Secretary of Style” and provided him a position of prestige. “We are on the threshold of a new American elegance thanks to Mrs. Kennedy’s beauty, naturalness, understatement, exposure and symbolism,” Cassini said when his selection as the couturier to shape the entire look of the First lady was announced.

It should come as no surprise that enterprising display manufacturers would grab the chance to produce the Jack and Jackie mannequin couple.

Jackie at a fitting

Jackie at a fitting

Not quite Chanel

Not quite Chanel

Jackie moved a lot of Chanel knock-offs

Jackie moved a lot of Chanel knock-offs

JFK and Jackie on 7th ave.

JFK and Jackie on 7th ave.

On the retail campaign trail

On the retail campaign trail

Everyone Loved the Kennedys

Everyone Loved the Kennedy’s

Gone but not forgotten

Gone but not forgotten


Lord and Taylor, nostalgic elegance in store

15 Dec
Christmas window displays have always played on nostalgia, we have Charles Dickens to thank for that. For years we saw animated 19th. Century London in department store windows (not that there is anything wrong with that) this years crop of display windows have put a new spin on the theme. Lord and Taylor is one of the few that have year after year relied on animation to capture the passing pedestrians attention. This year the store has departed from their usual. The current installation still finds its roots in turn of the century nostalgia with a twist. The use of a chaotic arrangement mixed with printed two-dimensional elements ( slightly reminiscent of a Bloomingdale’s approach) is a welcome change. A change I suspect is due to our poor economy an edict from management to “show the merchandise” and abandon the English “Christmas village” for an American approach. The results are wonderful, discreet product placement and minimal animation, (especially the paper doll dress change) is adorable. The miniature puppets dressed to kill and the images of L&T from long ago make for a throughly charming side-walk experience. Kodos to the display team for a beautiful set of windows.

Mannequins…..An Imitation of Life

12 Dec

Mannequins……My friends and enemies, I’ve been schlepping mannequins around for longer than I care to relate. Any display person will tell you that its a love hate relationship that one builds with our silent partners. If you have been working with the same “family’ for any length of time a dialogue develops between you and them.

I am the father of a group of  Rootsteins that have obediently portrayed my role assignments in a formal wear window  for 25 years. They have suffered every humiliation to fit into the latest tableau. I will illustrate:


The Lucky guy who got the girl


Still the lucky guy but she also had a fling with his Best-man.DSCN0751

who works as a waiter/chef [which is why she dumped him]


She discovers the man she married is a beast.


Despite his beastly intentions he takes her on a Caribbean cruise.


Which leaves our Best-man to seek a suitable girlfriend.


So…Its back to the restaurant where he meets Joan Collins preparing for Christmas.


Joan is not interested.


Joan leaves to attend a Christmas Fete but forgets her wig.


and our poor Best-man shaves his head to make Joan feel comfortable in public.


But Joan has found a new prospect and hes a sharp dresser..no kitchens with this guy.


Our beastly groom got dumped in Bermuda and is back where he started from.

I hope you enjoyed my little tableau drawn from previous windows. now read a interesting article to give you a bit a back round on our partners in crime and window dressing.


A Parisienne Christmas

8 Dec


Cats…Make themselves at Home

7 Dec

Ikea happen upon a brilliant concept for a recent advert. Cat lovers all over the world will relate. Ask any keeper of a feline and they will tell you that  cats will search endlessly for the perfect spot to nestle in for a long winters night (or any night for that matter)  One thing you can be sure of the choice will most likely a place you don’t want them to be.

How familiar are you with this?


Ever Wonder Why No One Shops Sears?

22 Oct


Sears doesn’t know who they are, this empty cart is emblematic of their identity crises. Are we Kmart? Or are we Macy’s? at least Macy pretends to be a “real”department store. No carts. Kmart knows that carts are an essential part of their program. Make up your mind, Sears.

The contrast is extreme, in a world of battling branding waged by retailers like Apple and Urban Outfitters how can Sears not see that they look abandoned. The following photos remind me of the series “The World After People” a department store left to the ravages of time without human habitation. It’s no wonder that Sears (once the largest retailer in the world) has lost its customer base. Despite all it’s problems even Penny’s looks like Bergdorf’s by comparison. I wish someone would explain why the oldest retailer in the States hasn’t figured out how to merchandise product.


This is the result of employee rigging, no VM would ever mount this display, or would they?


Now here is an exciting electronics dept. three boxes on the floor. Guess they gave up on this category.


Empty gondolas,could you at least remove the shelves and make a display of one product every 4 feet…


This is a shoe dept? Go to Nordstrom’s


The day of department store portraits passed a decade ago. Time for a barricade.


Dead fluorescents in a drop ceiling, Sears has all the signs of defeat,


An invitation to browse, I think not, this mess is too great a challenge. I will pass.


How about a face out? Put something there, anything! Go grab a couple of tee shirts


Boxed items are the easiest products to make into a story, This is the best they could come up with? apparently there are no VMs in this store.


I’ve seen better display at flea markets, this is down right scary. Would take two days to make sense of this tangled mess, but why even try there is nothing here that anyone wants.


Are there any sales people on this floor?


Not even price will move these goods, the Salvation Army does it better, they size order.


Stained point of purchase branding, I think not.

This is why it’s over for Sears, stick to hardware and appliances. Give up the fashion goods. Time to downsize.

America’s Favorite Subject: Celebrity

4 Oct


I’ve done window displays for 30 odd years. In all that time I have acquired a large set themes and subjects that I rely on daily, Hollywood Celebs from the studio system is one of them.  My prep time for an install has thankfully dropped to a reasonable amount, the clients still do not understand how long it takes to pull it together, and often question your invoice. Gone are the days of heavily propped vignettes, I am so over furniture, columns and elaborate fabric confections. I am not an interior decorator, although most clients think I am. I design retail  stores not boudoirs and no I will not do your sons Bar Mitzvah. I long ago discovered the wonder of Google search, Staples printing dept. and Mylar decals I can walk in with an entire display under my arm.


There is no one more iconic than Marilyn and so easy to install.

“Less is More” has been my mantra for years, but never has it been more true than recently. My years in this bis have taught me that it all comes down to three components. A good tagline, A good Image and most important a Good product. being freelance also helps, I generally have the last word as to what we are displaying.


Judy and Katherine…..Some girls were born for Black and White

I have found that when all is said and done Celebrity icons are a sure way the attract attention, the advertising industry has known this for years. Celeb endorsements sell product, especially if they are dead. I am the first to admit I live for the pantheon of Hollywood actors, my entire creative psyche is based on my life long immersion in movies. Every display I install can trace its roots to a particular frame in a film that stuck on my minds silver screen. Needless to say Americans share this mass hallucination, and I have no problem exploiting it.




Elizabeth Taylor….all the of them…are still magic when it comes to creating attention, I miss her.

If one wants a successful display that at least stops the viewer or better yet gets them in the shop, remember these 3 major rules; 1. Less is really more.. don’t put one more thing in. [ because the client will probably do it after you depart] 2. White is always right. [Maximum contrast in glare ridden windows is essential] 3. When in doubt don’t [ if you have the slightest inkling that what you are doing will offend don’t!] I’ve learned that the hard way.



Lately there has been a resurgence of Bond..all the Bonds, Remember “Shaken not Stirred”

I have proved to myself time and time again that celeb photos will always garner attention and comments, especially from the aging boomers [like me] I have concluded that there now exists two generational groups who will spend, the Gen Xers who are now in their 30s, working, married and still acquiring material goods due to their fascination with the 60s [thank you Mad Men] and the empty-nester boomers who thought they would never be 60, who are now pining for the days of their youth [like me] Boomers are refusing to accept old age, hence the perfect target for all sorts of marketing, infomercials are full of anti aging products. I for one I refuse to join ARRP [denial on a grand scale] I admit it.



Don’t forget Animals, they always create customer engagement. although it’s a bit like listening to parents brag about their children.



The “Sex and the City” period was huge, everyone commented. never has there been a show that so many identified with. Sold a large amount of fashion with this one.




The “Main Attraction” Was the best of all worlds, the movies and the famous couples who inhabit them. We all want it just like it is in the movies.


Even Harriet Nelson was a popular celeb..her windows were always met with the applause she wanted. Talk about apple pie squeaky clean, she had it in spades.

Tips window 003

Not a Merry Christmas

17 Dec

Fullscreen capture 12172012 122107 PMI feel the need to write. For weeks I’ve been busy making Christmas for others, finally after 5 weeks of garland, lights and 12 hour days I arrived at the end of making Christmas for others. What a relief, now I  can try to make a little Christmas of my own. It has been three years since I put up a tree, the lingering recession and the lackluster retail activity made me want to forget Christmas all together.

This year felt better there was a feeling of recovery in the air. I decided to  put up my tree and I loved doing it (a drink helped my cheer) as I listened to carols..I even started my shopping and actually paid retail for a few gifts. My good spirit was to come to an abrupt end when I heard the news, an unspeakable tragedy in Sandy Hook. Last Friday I was engaged in a last-minute display “touch-up” so I had no idea what was happening in the real world until I arrived home and began the Email and FB ritual. A shock that upon reflection that was similar to the shock of 9/11  How could this be happening? a tragedy so sad it is impossible to comprehend. 28  souls cut down as they prepared for a school Holiday party. As I continued to seek information and details it grew worse in horror, 6 year olds and teachers. I was growing numb with disbelief  as I started to discover photos and videos describing the circumstances. Then I cried.

I had to stop watching it was just more than I could endure, I fixed dinner and went to bed.The next morning I woke up had my coffee and pulled up more news on the pad, it was getting worse, a 20-year-old with an assault weapon had committed this heinous act and killed his own mother. Unlike the night before when I was saddened I started to get mad, mad at the killer,mad at the guns and mad at what my country has become. The U.S.A. stats on death by gunfire are astronomical when compared to other countries that have passed legislation to limit or eliminate military firearms.

If I may at the risk of sounding selfish, the cause  of my anger is  another mass killing of innocents this time in an elementary  school. Death had cast a pall over my Christmas and that of many others as well, The  pre-recession Christmas I thought  was unfolding was not to be.  This senseless act of violence has made it difficult to embrace the season of “peace on earth and goodwill  toward man” How can one feel merry when those who were so wronged have had their holiday become forever an event for remorse and bitter memories. A national disgrace due to inability of our governing bodies to see the pattern of violence growing in our society.

When will we put an end to all this madness? For the last decade the state of our union has been in decline, wars, lies, self-interest, greed, violence, discrimination, extreme partisan politics in a useless Congress  the list is endless. The 60s of my teen years were hardly tranquil, I had my share of sit-ins and protests, but never anything like this. I always believed the U.S. was the most fair and civilized country in the world. I used to love my country. Is it just me? Am I looking back through eyes blinded by nostalgia at a time that never existed, due to my youth and naivety? or has America really become a  dangerous place to live.

The  future United States seems to be heading toward gated communities for the privileged walled up to protect themselves against the poverty-stricken crime ridden masses.

The disparity between the ruling class and the rest of us feels a bit  like “Let them Eat Cake” [ we all know where that led ]. When did we become so corrupt and when did it become possible to stack the Supreme court. Seems like every seat the both houses has a “For Sale” sign on it. Why has God been replaced with the worship of profit? Why do we all seem to be angry? This nation has become unrecognizable to me, it’s not the place I grew up in. I am concerned for our future. As a nation we must restore the compassion, sincerity and unselfish public service that made us the beacon of freedom and opportunity that we once were. Sandy Hook is the last straw,  it took their brutal sacrifice for us to hold the mirror to our selves and see the naked truth in the reflection. We must make their horrific deaths an agent for real change, to guarantee that there will never be another Christmas like this.

%d bloggers like this: