I find myself anxious to buy Mary Portas' memoir Shop Girl - but in true Huntress style, I'll wait until it turns up in a charity shop, ideally one of Mary's Living & Giving shops CLICK HERE. In the meantime, I found what I think must be her first book on the shelves of my local Oxfam for just 99p. This is a fantastic addition to my style library - well worth it if only for the photos. While Mary began her career at Harrods, the retailing renegade came to prominence at Harvey Nichols where, among other things, she elevated window dressing to an art form. As Director of Marketing, she understood that a shop's glass frontage was not only its most economical advertising tool but could be its most compelling.
You wouldn't want to judge this Thames & Hudson publication by its cover. Looking a little like a study text, it's actually brimming with inspiration, facts, quotes and images from around the world.
I was recently chatting with a shop owner who said he found it difficult to conjure the style vibe of 1990s. Windows, published in 1999, encapsulates the decade with ease. It's like looking back over your shoulder. There it is, that indefinable era. The one that still hides out in the darker recess of your wardrobe.
British designer Paul Smith is quoted in the book, saying, "With windows you have just a few seconds to get someone's attention; visual humor is the most effective way, transcending the barriers of both language and budget." And I couldn't agree more.
The shop I ran from 2006 to 2010 boasted a big, bright shop window that I tried to use to maximum effect. So when the former PM and his wife moved in around the corner, I couldn't resist the opportunity to welcome them to the neighborhood. While Mrs B never popped in, this cheeky window display made the newspapers, as well as industry publication Drapers. Now that's clearly marketing that money can't buy - right Mary?