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VM inspiration: A snowy woolly Christmas

Great minds, or possibly great visual merchandisers, think alike for two of the UK’s leading knitwear brands this Christmas: premium knitwear brand John Smedley has a lovely, blonde, cashmere woolly window, and so does premium cashmere supplier Brora.

In Brora’s open-backed windows in Sloane Square rows of simple metal handrails mounted on the ceiling offer anchor points for giant, spun-yarn, cashmere wool-wrapped stars. This is a lovely visual oxymoron: a pointed star, not shiny but in a soft substance. The stars create a simple but textural backdrop for three mannequins dressed in Christmas-morning wooly merchandise. Note the handrails close to the glass above the window too, and the strong spotlights: this is a simply constructed, but robust and effective window.

The window on the opposite side of the door features a snowy mountain of white-painted wooden cubes, surrounded by medium-sized wooly stars, festooned with spruce, and a skein of pom-pommed braid. All very snow-like from a distance, this is a lovely arrangement of complex but quality textures and restrained colour. The foreground is filled with both gold-sprayed and natural pine-cones, neatly adding a prickly touch to the fluffy merchandise folded behind them. Notice how although the colour of the merchandise varies, it is harmonious in either running through a tonal spectrum of colour or is linked by repeating pattern.

This is more visible in a single cube detail, where a red/neutral blown-up tweed is folded above three classic balanced tweed wraps. To the right, three neutral-coloured tweeds are folded above a blue/black blown-up tweed, creating a nicely interesting, inverted repeat. Notice too, all the perled-fringed ends are folded in the same direction: to do otherwise would look a touch too messy. Formally-casual neatly achieved here.

At John Smedley in Brook Street I loved the illusion of depth created in this shallow window by the overlapping, spun-yarn, wool-wrapped, stage flats. These create the illusion of depth and their curvy shape focuses attention on the merchandise in the centre: a slowly twirling, male body form, dressed in multiple-knit layers. The lighting, hidden behind the body form and from the overhead spots, directs our attention too, by foreshadowing the textural surface of the wool and contrasting the theatrically-lit stage flats with the shadowy merchandise on the body form.

The extremely inviting, cozy, snuggly, textural fluffiness of this window, contrasts the three sweaters against the cashmere props. Both John Smedley’s window and Brora’s are very lovely, very snuggly, and both extremely timely as colder weather approaches this December.