VM inspiration: the secret Christmas windows at Harrods

17th December 2014

Only the very tall can fully appreciate the secret windows at Harrods, writes Dr Valerie Wilson Trower

I have already written about Harrods’ Christmas store windows, but the retailer’s niche or Tiffany windows for Christmas merit their own article. These are the small windows set in the larger window space or the small windows often found either side of a main door in a classic department store façade.

Unfortunately, the ones at Harrods are difficult to see, as they are positioned rather high in each vinyl-covered window space. The bottom of the window is nearly 5’ from street level. This means that, for most people, the bottom part of each window is visible but the top part is not. The bottom part is filled with the below-ground, cross-section view of Harrods’ Christmas-theme mouse world. The top part is an above-ground snowy landscape with small merchandise placed at the front, of which the average customer can only see the very front edge.

Having persuaded very tall (6’7”) photographer John Gulliver, to take photographs, it is a pleasure to share them. I love that the whole of the above-ground landscape is lit and has a lovely back-drop too. These ‘secret windows,’ they deserve a wider audience, not just tall people!

Each window has falling snow, the polystyrene kind which recirculates using fans, as supplied by Snow Business, which supplied the snow for Molton Brown’s Regent St. windows last Christmas.

The following show the above-ground image, the below ground image, and then an overall image of each window in that order, with the odd, extra-detailed shot, because they are so very beautifully made.

The wonderful thing about VM in Harrods is knowing that, somewhere in the store, is the perfect accessory which would also look great in the windows, as with the crystal necklace which makes the nicest, sparkly, miniature Christmas tree.

Notice how sparkly above in the snow is echoed in sparkly merchandise below.

Love the mouse climbing in to the shoe: the mouse is about the size of a very, very small real one.

The scale is touch odd here: stags are usually smaller than cars, but perhaps these are intended to be toy cars?

However, the stag nicely relates to the Scottish themed mouse house below, with a tartan backdrop, a copy of Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen painting, and a mouse that perhaps has had rather too much whisky….

Here is the overall window.

And here is a close-up of the apparently rather worse-for-wear, inebriated mouse.

Moving on, the theme to this window is interiors, suggested by the house-shaped tree ornaments.

And the mice seem be celebrating Christmas pulling a very small Christmas cracker, amid a brush, a cone of string and long pipe-matches, all beautifully lit by a tiny mirror-ball.

I’m so charmed that the upper window has a backdrop complete with trees in snow, although 99% of customers probably cannot see this at all unless they stand back on the edge of the pavement, and even then customers would obscure the view for small children. There is something beautifully zen-like about doing a thorough job.

Close-up of the cracker-pulling mice having fun.

The tiny speakers suggest it’s a music window.

And so it is: the mice are gathered around a very-small grand piano, with a soloist in the foreground of the recording studio.

Harmless puns, including this direction to the Micestro studio, remind me of the Bekonscott village store names, which I wrote about a while ago.

A selection of hairpins suggest a girlie-theme in the mouse world below.

It’s all tiny dresses on even tinier coat-hangers here, with make-up brushes and accessories, festooned with fairy-lights, in a girly mouse world

Overall image of the girly mouse world.

The crystal duck suggests it’s bath time.

And so it is, but this time its more opulent spa than pedestrian, everyday showering. The mouse in the foam-filled (polystyrene, I think) golden shell is totally pampered. Shells strung on tinsel make great Christmas decorations.

A finely-dressed mouse couple must suggest premium-brand fashions.

With an overall shot of the workroom of a couturier, with brand names on the wall and a doll as a bust form, for fitting, or perhaps a customer awaiting a bespoke gown?

And here is the overall image of a doll, snug underground awaiting her new finery.

A mouse using a wooden spatula as a snowy slide. It must be a cookery window! This window is unusual as it has 3 levels in total, yet even here the background is completed.

The famous Food Hall has its moment in the windows with this tempting display of wrapped cheeses, a bottle of something nice, a corkscrew, and warm-toned, wooden condiments. Scrumptious.

The lower part of the 3-level window is the kitchen. Mice proclaim cookery-gifts for culinary customers: Alessi on 2, and Cookshop on 2…

Here it is, all put together. A veritable house of feasting!

The next window is more generic, it could be a frozen wonderland in any store. A silver squirrel in the foreground and a snowy conifer in the background suggests the classic Christmas decoration below.

Sure enough, the snowy conifer has been taken indoors and festooned with decorations. I love floor-to-ceiling Christmas trees! Love the paper chains too.

Here is the overall shot: a lovey contrast in cozy indoors and a frozen winter wonderland.

In our last window, a snuggly dressed mouse with hat and scarf posts a Christmas wish-list in a Christmas decoration post box in the snow, watched by some chocolate rabbits.

While, down below, a mouse writes his Christmas wish-list in his library. I wonder what is on it? What do mice wish for at Christmas?

Overall shot: is a miniature story frame-by-frame.

The windows taken together tell a totally charming, visual storybook of Christmas. Combined with the large window, which I have written about previously, Harrods offers something for everyone in its Christmas windows. Wonderful.