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VM choice: Banana Republic stages the rain

The windows of Banana Republic’s store in London’s Regent Street seem perfect for displays of mannequins and umbrellas.

Just installed against a medium-grey floor and back wall are three mannequins, dressed in grey or the season’s must-have yellow, accessorized with tan shoes. The mannequins have been staged, rather than placed on a spigot and a baseplate. Staging mannequins with wire allows them to be positioned more closely together, or closer to other props, than a baseplate would allow. It also lends a lightness and added realism.

Giving the window its theme is a bright yellow umbrella with the words ‘splish splash’ repeated around the edge. While in past Banana Republic windows umbrellas were positioned overhead this one is a ‘frozen moment’ caught in mid-twirl. To achieve a frozen moment perfectly, as though the window were a still from a movie rather than a window containing merchandise, is a great VM ambition.

While the UK is famous for its poor weather, the proverb ‘March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,’ has not been true this year. One day might contain sunshine, heavy showers, sleet, hail, or snow, all with blustery winds. In truth, four seasons in one day. Heavy showers are very effectively suggested here by curtains of white cord forming ‘rain-filled heavy clouds’ and a ‘downpour’ on to the floor of the window behind the mannequins, against the grey back-wall.

The curved glass section, at the end of the closed-back window, echoes the theme with sunshine-yellow limited to the window graphic. The exhortation to ‘Create your own sunshine’ might possibly be found in an advice guide, particularly since Banana Republic is a US-origin company, where such things by writers and thinkers, such as Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) or Henry David Thoreau (1817- 1862) remain popular. The inclusion of a straw hat worn by the two staged mannequins in this window hints at bucolic weather to come too.

In a last window on Regent Street, this time open-backed, the mannequins wear shorts, rolled-up sleeves, and sneakers while sheltering underneath another yellow umbrella. Comparing the images, the baseplates look a little heavy and grounded in comparison to the lightness of the staged windows.

A simple but effective display with well thought out props.