Christmas is just around the corner, and signs of the festive season are cropping up all over, from the jolly garlands that were put up in our local Superdrug sometime in the middle of October, to non-denominational holiday illuminations hopefully not flicked on by convicted rapists.
But of course one of the most eagerly-awaited signs of the Yuletide is to be seen on Oxford Street, in the famous holiday window displays at Selfridges. Needless to say, gone are the days when the Selfridges Christmas windows were elaborate fairylands of elves and gingerbread. (An elderly woman approached us, unbidden, while we were taking the photographs below to tell us "They're not at all like they used to be you know!", and then walked away. Amen, sister.) These days the displays are more about placing very high-end fashion into a vaguely season-appropriate, arty mise-en-scène.
But the Christmas window this year seem particularly theatrical, and cry out for some decoding. The overall theme of the display — titled Wrapped and created in collaboration(?) with Cole and Son luxury wallpaper company — seems to be "things that are wrapped" Like, for instance, a twelve-foot-tall teddy bear. Or a gigantic woman's shoe. Or a piano.
But what does it all mean? And does any of it make one actually want to buy things at Selfridges? Join Londonist as we peruse just a few of the elements on display...
Description: A fantastically beautiful Vivienne Westwood brown silk dress towers, Godzilla-like, above a model of London, in which all the building have been wrapped up in brown paper, like a Christo project gone horribly, horribly out of control. Impressive wrapped version of the Gherkin, the London Eye, BT Tower, etc. etc.
What does it mean?: London is one big present, every day is like Christmas, and everything is waiting to be unwrapped by YOU!! Also, Vivienne Westwood is a fucking genius.
Does it make us want to shop at Selfridges?: Hell, yes. We at Londonist are suckers for displays that make us feel good about London and its buildings. And also for Vivienne Westwood.
Description: A woman in a sheer, sparkly gown dangles from a golden chandelier, which continuously revolves.
What does it mean?: Perhaps it is a statement about the new EU regulations about "working at height"? Whether it is a statement pro or con helmet requirements is difficult to say.
Does it make us want to shop at Selfridges?: No. The image inspires feelings of physical danger and anxiety. We want to help this poor trapped woman.
Description: A woman in a furry hat reclines on a dining table covered in cakes and sweets. She appears nonplussed.
What does it mean?: Indulge your sweet tooth this holiday season, but don't let your enthusiasm show too much.
Does it make us want to shop at Selfridges?: Cake! Sweets! Everybody loves cake! Hooray!
What does it mean?: A fun practical joke to play on Brigitte Bardot!
Does it make us want to shop at Selfridges?: Honestly, this one just throws us for a loop.
Description: An afro-wig-themed dance party is in full swing. The attendees are voguing. The men stand on turntables, which slowly revolve.
What does it mean?: The new dance craze sweeping the nation is inspired by Sufi "whirling dervish" devotion. In afro wigs. Amid more bottles of POP champagne.
Does it make us want to shop at Selfridges?: We went to a wig-themed party once. It was not fun at all.
What does it mean?: Lesbians!!! Leeeesbiaaaans!!!
Does it make us want to shop at Selfridges?: Sweet baby Jesus there are LESBIANS on display right in the middle of Oxford Street!!!
Description: A child whose face has been removed sits beneath a dining table, as a glitter-covered toy train circles him, endlessly.
What does it mean?: Some sort of Brechtian allegory for the consumer under late capitalism? Infantalised and stripped of identity, the products of industry, represented by the golden train, both trap him on all sides, and distract him from the abundance, invisible to him, on the table above. All he can do is watch the train circle... circle... like the hours of our wasted lives.
Does it make us want to shop at Selfridges?: It makes us want to kill ourselves
All photography by the author. Apologies for its utter incompetence. Much better photographs are to be found here.