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VM choice: Playful ponies at Luisaviaroma, Florence

Luxury retailer Luisaviaroma sells men’s, women’s and chidren’s wear, shoes, and accessories from established premium brands and emerging designers, on Via Roma in Florence. It has a second Florence store and an extensive online presence in six languages. The main store underwent renovation in 2008 to incorporate interactive screens and a top floor restaurant. It hosts seasonal promotional events and is known for its lively VM, integrating both the windows and the store.

The main window features a rainbow backdrop of colourful ribbons, against which softly inflated, daisy-like clouds float against a mirrored back wall, promising interesting merchandise.

While these resemble helium balloons, they are the kind that are inflated via a fitting on the reverse side, like inflatable beach balls. These simple elements combine to create a light-hearted, optimistic but sophisticated mood: exactly right for the colourful selection of merchandise in-store.

The window adjacent to the door is relatively simple, with angled 3D cut-out daisy-clouds across the floor and mannequins between. There are seen against a white cabinet, part-mirror-backed and part-filled with more balloon clouds and merchandise. Across the top of the cabinet is a cluster of coloured cloud-daisies and, topping these, a selection of pink ‘My Little Pony’ fairy-tale castles.

In-store, a ‘My little Pony’ -inspired theme fills the display space with a lilac, winged unicorn gazing with big eyes at customers. Placed adjacent to brightly-dressed mannequins, the unicorn’s magical presence is underlined by a giant rainbow which snakes across the back walls surrounded by fluffy clouds.

The accessories section makes maximum use of the high ceiling by perching mannequins above the rows of shoes. Painted ‘Ben & Jerry’ sky-blue and adorned with stylised clouds, the central fixture also incorporates illuminated glass boxes which showcase special selections. Note the elongated arms rising from the platform, offering an additional opportunity to display merchandise and creating another layer of interest. On the side wall a rainbow and cloud mural fills the space above eye level and continues the theme.

In the background additional rainbows, terminating in pale-blue stylised clouds, divide the retail space into a series of rooms. The message, of course, is that the merchandise is the crock of gold traditionally found at the rainbows end.

The ceiling and lighting are worth a look too. Note how the background lighting, set in to the cabinets of the side walls, is supplemented by relatively few spotlights. However the ambiance created is of soft lighting with the merchandise at the sides well lit, and the spots adding to the lux levels in the centre. Overall lux levels are aided by the highly reflective surface, which covers the ceiling.

A simple accessories wall fixture with integral lighting is linked to the theme with more pink and yellow castles. Note the storage space in the base of the unit for easy stock replenishment. Refraining from adding additional VM props between the merchandise conveys a clean sophisticated look. To have added a miniature unicorn, a cloud, or a castle between the shoes would have looked too messy.

Photography: Darren Neave