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VM inspiration: the year of the Reindeer?

In Hong Kong, where East meets west, displays regularly morph from Christmas into Chinese New Year (CNY) as one follows the other. This means that about two weeks after Christmas in the current Year of the Horse, all the illuminated reindeer-shaped lights scattered over the exterior high-rise buildings on the harbour front lost their antlers and morphed into horses. Santa’s sleigh became a giant, gold Chinese money symbol (the equivalent of a Western ingot), and bats (fu in Chinese, also meaning good fortune or happiness) appeared.

It is interesting that, in this Year of the Horse, Selfridges Christmas decoration section features the reindeer strongly this autumn. Whilst Selfridges did attract some adverse press comment for the earliness of its display this year, I’m certain it wouldn’t make space for it every year if it didn’t sell, which it clearly does very well.

While there is the odd polar bear, bird, and rabbit this year, I was struck by the sheer number of reindeer. For large department stores and specialty chains the Christmas theme will have been decided last March, but for small boutiques and independent stores Christmas is on the agenda now. Let’s take a look at Christmas decorations - deer especially - and the way they provide great inspiration for Christmas windows.

First up are the giant deer. Whilst a number of customers may stroke their noses, I’m certain these have already found good homes, making a Christmas statement inside the entrances of some very fine houses. They would work in the right location in a store, positioned near the entrance with a giant red ribbon around the neck, echoed by red decorations further in to the store.

Red flocked reindeer are very seasonal; these are in the red section of Selfridges colour-blocked display. The advantage of red deer is the seasonality of the colour as well as the form, lending a sharp, clean look to the clutter that Christmas decorations can create. This clutter can detract from the merchandise, which should be the main focus of attention. Pringle used a red reindeer in its Mount Street store last Christmas, and completed this in 3-D in its Hong Kong store windows last Christmas.

An alternative might be the knitted reindeer: great for more homely, slightly ethnic merchandise. The creamy-white colour would sit nicely with multi-coloured merchandise and look great with snuggly knits or neutral-coloured, Scandi-style homeware.

A little too soft and cozy? Try the bristle-brush deer - these are great for external trees, as well as in-store.

An alternative is the bristle-brushed Bambi: very cute, with an endearingly sweet expression. A herd grazing the snowy windows of a teen-focused store will make customers coo with delight.

It seems that Christmas is coming early elsewhere in London too: I spotted a herd of mini deer grazing the front of the Irregular Choice window in Carnaby Street recently.

On a slightly adult note, the section behind the Selfridges cash desk has a graphic of a stylized wintery tree-scape and a row of gold-sprayed books, suggesting a luxurious but slightly more sophisticated take on the festive season. It makes a great deal of sense for Selfridges, with its corporate yellow, to morph into gold at Christmas time when a taste for luxury and treats is a now universal.

To conclude, here are two images of the successful use of Christmas decorations in VM from Gucci’s window for 2012, using flawlessly installed giant gold Christmas bows.

Notice how the giant balls are securely but minimally fixed - the last loop in the centre of the display conceals the screw fixing. Time to take a good look at Christmas decorations and to ramp them up for store display.