Art and Mechanics: Harvey Nichols’ April window display

Feeling blown away by something, be it fashion, art, food or the simplest of things is the best feeling ever. It’s not often I feel that way about a window display – loving something is different to feeling blown away by it. And the latter is exactly how I felt when I came across this incredible painting in Harvey Nichols’ window display a few weeks ago.

It wasn’t just one, however, but six stunning paintings if I remember correctly, that made me go a little picture-crazy. I love art and painting and I was near enough moved by the beauty of these portraits, which were placed on the side windows. After some Google stalking I found out that they were created by the Canadian artist Andrew Salgado and commissioned exclusively by the department store. It breaks my heart to know that these paintings are no longer in London (or for now anyway), and are in fact currently being exhibited in some gallery in Canada.

This set of window displays was probably one of the most elaborate that I have ever come across, since there were essentially two completely different yet oddly complimentary themes. On the one hand, we had the amazing portraits by Salgado, whilst on the other hand there was a bizarre – yet fascinating – mechanical theme. I didn’t know what to think about the mechanics one – integrating a ‘now stocking’ promotion for the luxe perfumers Shay & Blue, it was interesting, different, intricate and crazy. It had a lot of elements I usually like, such as lots of colour and the oh-so-trendy monochrome look, but just like real-life machinery and mechanics, I felt it lacked a bit of warmth and humanity. Still, I truly admire the artwork (because that’s all you can call it) of these displays – the originality, effort and playfulness put into them is incredible. Harvey Nichols have definitely got their own style when it comes to window dressing – despite being a fairly grandiose name, visually the department store hits the avant garde note with ease.

Photographs taken on April 22nd, 2013

If I had to guess what the inspiration was behind the mechanical theme, I’d say it was WALL-E meets Dior by Galliano and Blade Runner (with a small hint of Alien??). All in all, I feel 100% bias towards Salgado’s paintings. I love how a simple idea, like putting a strong painting in a window display, can cause such a huge visual impact if executed correctly. In fact, surely Salgado’s art would have been more than worthy for the front windows? It might have been a slightly risky, not quite commercial enough move for the department store to take – and yet it might have felt just a little groundbreaking too.



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