Travelling between France and England, I’ve noticed a certain gallic flair for window dressing, based on an almost uncanny ability to juxtapose items to guarantee maximum desirability. The picture above is of a window display in Gago, a beautiful boutique in Aix-en-Provence. It showcases two quite stunning Sofie D’hoore skirts by pairing them together but alongside other items that do not detract attention from the main focus. It is an eye-catching display, especially in a town in which most of the textiles on show in shop windows are linen or local toiles.
Window dressing like this is quite a distinct skill. Unlike a gallery display in which one might try to show the context for items or tell a story about them, the shop window is much more conceptual. The item must stop the passer-by in their tracks, force their attention and make them curious to enter. In displays like this, there is not even a context or story in support: the items have to stand alone as worthy of attention. One way of ensuring this is to do what many high street shops do and reproduce a look that will be immediately familiar from street style shots, magazine shoots or pop culture. It is a much braver thing for a shop to style something new and interesting in their window. Dover Street Market always does this well in London but there are few other boutiques that manage it as inspiringly as those I’ve seen in France.
And Gago is not alone in Aix – Le Grand Boutique at 3 rue de la Glaciere also offers an excellently curated stock, though more focused on French brands, including Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno, Maison Michel, Raquel Allegra and Jérôme Dreyfuss.