Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Essential Retail Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

VM Basics: circles

In good VM the basic building blocks of a display should be harmonious. This means the use of echoing forms, be they cubes and squares, or balls and circles. Let’s take a look at how the circle works perfectly to attract attention.

The circle attracts our attention by defining the focus of our attention within it. By delineating extraneous items, it effectively shines a spotlight on the merchandise being displayed.

Commencing with an example of a simple blown-up image of ties wrapped around each other, from Dunhill, we can feel how our eyes are drawn towards the centre of the ‘rose’ of ties. Note how the colour palette of the ties moves from warm reds in the centre, through paler yellows, and then to pale pinks and greens towards the periphery of the circle. The colour palette is focusing our attention on the centre of the wheel. Nicely, this imaginative use of ties is neatly underlined by the three ties on a stand on the left of the window.

If a circle makes at us look at its centre the effect is strengthened when the circle is hollow, that it is a ring, as in this example: Louis Vuitton’s paper shirt window from S/S 2012. The suitcase, filled with women’s small travel accessories in the LV print, is encircled by a double row of paper-folded women’s blouses with cut-work collars. The bib front on each shirt and the round paper buttons echo and underline the curved theme, and add extra detail. Notice how the brand is carefully underlined by the inclusion of the Louis Vuitton label in the back of the neck of every blouse?

A similar effect occurs here, where the giant lifebuoy in the Asian branches of Moncler’s S/S 12 window focuses our attention on the mannequin, dressed in a nautical theme and seated in the centre of the circle created by the lifebuoy. A series of Hiroshige-style waves fill the floor of the window, deftly mixing East and West.

The lifebouys were made from fiberglass and paint sprayed by Hong Kong VM supplier Pattern in a local Shenzhen factory.

As a variation on the theme of circles, Blue Mount’s window for the London Olympics for Shanghai Tang’s store in Sloane Street, employed an arc of Chinese drums, painted in the colours of the Olympic circles, and mounted on a supporting metal arc. Two body forms dressed in the same bright-coloured polo shirts break the arc and command attention.

This works even with smaller windows, where the body form breaks both the arc of the support and the arc of the drums. Even the arc’s base plate is a circle. The curvy swirls of the stylized dragon-robe patterned background are more prominent here and link nicely with the curves of the arc.

A last variation, from Sonia Rykiel’s Hong Kong window of S/S 12, uses a partially-broken, filled circle. The colour of the yellow flower-filled black circle of flowers attracts attention, and the eye comes to rest at the bag on the lower left. Notice how the plain band which divides the black flowers from the yellow ones in the centre, creates an important textural relief, stopping this display from being a rather relentless, flower, flower, flower…


Key points

• Use complete circles or partial ones.


• Arcs should be related in diameter.


• This works well for flat images and 3-D props.


• Use merchandise in the centre of breaking the edge of a circle.


• Relate merchandise to the circles, or contrast with the shape of the circles, to highlight differences or to create a visual link.


• Employ textural differences to prevent the props overwhelming the merchandise.