I have a very soft spot for two very specific types of mail that come through my letterbox: the Studio Catalogue and the Harrods Magazine. When I mention this to anyone willing to listen, this anyone is baffled, if not shocked, by this coupling, for Studio and Harrods could not be more different if they tried.
The former is the purveyor of all throw-away cheap and nasty tack, Christmassy or otherwise, including revolting boiled sweets of the basest sort and vulgar willie-and-tits-shaped chocolates, while the latter sells everything for everyone everywhere, provided this everyone has a job trading commodities such as oil (the black, not the olive, sort) or weapons and can therefore afford essentials such as £1m snooker tables or £ 18,000 Swarovski-encrusted table footballs.
Still, Harrods is one of my favourite places and the one that has the very best sale in town if not in the world. Having shopped at Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey, Selfridges and everywhere else all the way down to Lord and Taylor, John Lewis and Macy’s, and having read the past ten years of French, British, American and Italian Vogues, I really do know my market. This year, the Christmas windows pay homage to the latest Bond, James Bond outing in Quantum of Solace (nice title by the way, not that it means anything to me), with glamourous Bond girls languidly draped over desirable objects, wearing very gorgeous dresses, among typical Harrods super-lux settings.
Yet, for all of its refined bling (a bit of an oxymoron this one, but not quite if you know Harrods), my personal award of Best Christmas Windows in London goes, yet again, to Fortnum and Mason. Fortnum has a real knack for creating magical displays that tell a story. I recall their fabulous Alice in Wonderland windows for example, but this year they have surpassed their own greatness, with an icy take on the Snow Queen having children and adults alike stopping agog, ooohing and aahing with their mouths open. And I’ll tell you something else... I wasn’t the only one taking pics of these.