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VM inspiration: Rick Owens and Salome at Selfridges

The whole world must have noticed this amazing visual merchandising display: a huge, 25ft. white figure of fashion designer Rick Owens, as a figure from Richard Strauss’ opera Salome, positioned on the canopy above the main front entrance of Selfridges on Oxford Street.

This is such a bold, super-wow thing to do I am totally stunned. The weight of the polystyrene figure must have been a major concern. Just how much weight will the 100 year old canopy take? How was it lifted in to position? Even assuming it is composed of sections, which is hard to see, that still requires a crane - and getting a crane on Oxford Street is a challenge. How to secure it? How to ensure it is weather-proof? Brilliant!

Selfridge’s windows celebrate the opening of its new Everyman Cinema and the launch Rick Owens 20th anniversary collection. The collection is inspired by a 1923 silent movie starring Alla Nazzimova, of Richard Strauss’ opera Salome. Performed in German, the opera was based on words, originally in French, by Oscar Wilde. The movie version will be included in a programme of screenings at the store.

Sculptor Doug Jennings created the sculpture, which took 12 weeks for 20 team members to build. The black hair is made from 15 miles of coated black strips. The right hand holds a torch, which is lit for 12hrs a day.

The corner window beside the Wonder Room features flat screens with Rick Owen’s name in flames, against a black wood staircase with a moving fog across it. The 20-piece collection in the Wonder Room and the mens and womenswear sections was created as a crossover, especially for Selfridges, and represents the largest space Selfridges has given to a single designer.

The side windows are equally wonderful. I loved the face of Owen’s model, Terry Ann, who is portrayed as Salome, with back-lit eyes, and a slowly running fountain of black ink-like blood pouring from her mouth. Across her forehead are scenes from the silent movie.

Next, is a monochrome image of Edouard as Jokanaan, John the Baptist in the biblical story, whose head is demanded by Salome. In the centre of the window is the giant silver platter on which his head will be placed.

The adjacent window shows a rotating silver moon reflected in a black curved screen and, like the other side windows, has lines from the opera moving on a narrow screen ‘breaking news’-style across the back of the window.

Even the small Tiffany windows, adjacent to the main doors, pick up nicely on the monochromatic theme, with details of the festival and old cinematography equipment.

The Selfridges VM team has excelled itself again: giant moving props, moving liquid, lights, and moving text, deftly and beautifully created and installed.

The World of Rick Owens is in place until the 24th of October.