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VM Choice: Penhaligon’s and RIBA Regent St event.

The Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) has, for the fifth year, paired architects with retailers to create VM displays for London’s Regent Street. Results have been mixed. While some retailers have not participated at all, others have achieved something new and interesting. A total of 15 architects took part in the scheme this year.

While I liked Karen Millen’s anthromorphic cut-out silhouettes by EKM Works, and the Brooks Brothers bear made of bears by Squire and Partners, the most successful window is for perfumer Penhaligon's, working with Al-Jawad Pike. The windows are completely filled with a fortress-like distillery of metal in which are set glass flasks. Reminiscent of a giant, copper climbing frame, the use of metal is both on-trend, as copper is definitely the coolest metal now, and cleverly references the distiller’s copper still.

Perfumery is the art of distilling floral and bark essences to obtain subtle scents and this window perfectly suggests the alchemy involved. Each glass flask contains a few of the many ingredients used in perfume creation, and each is carefully held by a copper collar as though it is about to be gently heated to release its unique properties.

A few flasks contain tinted liquids as though the process has been part completed and the resulting essence is ready to be diluted for use.

I have long been a fan of Penhaligon’s VM, but this display opens up new realms for perfumers and retailers of any perfumed products in that it suggests the skill of production without a laborious, factual display, a strategy which we have, perhaps, grown a little tired of? Retailers of perfumed candles, toiletries, and food please note: variations on this idea this would work for you too.