Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Window Shopping

Nothing can beat a good occasion for some window shopping, when moneys tight glaring and staring into a shops window can reveal a wealth of inspiration and dreams. While more contemporary shop windows appear bland, covered in poster advertisements or the necessity to confirm their lines of plain clothing lined up on defenceless innocent mannequins.

One shop that maintains a fantasy of shopping, adding a glamour and historicity to the shopping experience is always Fenwick's - one which drew out the inspiration for this post. Fenwick's is a grand department store, while now all around the UK it originated in Newcastle - my former university city. And, every Christmas they do the most amazing Xmas displays. Although not always related to Christmas [in the past few years there has been Gulliver's Travels, Oliver Twist - I can't remember the rest]. Along the length of the shop across its windows showcase the selected story as lines of children and adults of all ages walk along in awe, taking in the story. It makes the city centre a magical place to be.

So here is a collection from Life Magazine inspired by the delights and fantasy of gazing endlessly into shop windows back in the 1930s.

Its hard to tell the blurred boundary between who or what is real, upon which side do the adults or the boy child face? While the women on the right appears "real" snuggled and wrapped tight in a fur coat, the male partner - his face appears that of a mannequin. It plays with the boundaries between reality and appearance - who is watching who?!

The appealing innocence of the child in their sturdy yet elegant pram, the fruits of the shop or stall before them their parents or guardians away from the shot. An era when eating fruit and vegetables was an everyday occurrence, away from the invention of "ready meals".

"Do you think your mother would like this? Or that?" You can somewhat image the conversation between father and daughter, yet her face remains somewhat emotionless while her father points and questions. While appearing into what looks like a wallpaper or fabric shop? Maybe they have been sent out on a mission - their bundles of shopping before them already.

Hope you enjoy the collection of photographs, from the success of the kitchen table posting (see below) I'm hoping to reinstate my posting of old photographs more regularly as long as inspiration and photograph hunting continues!


  1. These are really fascinating! I was looking at the archival photos of the window displays from Eaton's (a Canadian department store that has since gone bankrupt). I found the ones from the 30s and 40s especially interesting. Similarly, these are really really interesting, both aesthetically and sociologically.

  2. I love this post and your very
    interesting wording :-) Bravo!

  3. I agree, window shopping can be so inspiring and satisfying! Love the vintage images :)

  4. As someone on a most modest of budget, I will unabashedly admit to being an avid shopper of both "real world" and online windows, though I can't say I've ever chanced upon any (on the streets) that were a hair as lovely as the examples you've so wonderfully highlighted for us here. Splendid post, my dear!

    Many hugs & joyful Thursday wishes,
    ♥ Jessica