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VM choice: Pickwick Papers catches a Bali Ha'i moment

Julia Johnson, owner of family business Pickwick Papers, which sells interiors fabrics and wallpapers in London’s Greenwich, has a very sure eye for colour and texture, which is also reflected in her eye-catching windows for the store.

With an expertise that encompasses domestic and commercial interiors, bespoke tented ceilings, tissue boxes, and even boat curtains, Julia and her team have created an effective window for this narrow multi-paned space. It currently features a pair of golden mannequin legs, a decorative mirror, and a few red, paper-ball Christmas decorations.

The key to success here is in Johnson’s choice of fabric: a painterly, impressionist seascape with rows of palm trees decorated with bright flowers giving it a retro Hawaiian touch. It brings to mind the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and later movie, ‘South Pacific,’ filmed in 1958 and based on Michener’s book ‘Tales of the South Pacific.’ With its anti-racist theme, the musical ran for three years and many of its songs – such as ‘Bali Ha’I,’ ‘There is nothing like a dame’, ‘Happy Talk,’ - have become classics.

The golden mannequin’s legs perched on the back of a neatly-covered padded bench in the window remind of us of then fashionable preoccupation with the exotic.

A wooden petal-edged mirror on the narrow window nicely suggests ethnic craftsmanship and treasured mementoes, contrasting beautifully with the warm orange, slubbed wallpaper.

An overall image of the entire window show the red paper-ball decorations set to the right of this narrow space. Redolent perhaps of Chinese New Year more than Christmas, the colour picks up on the flowers in the print, and catches the eyes of passersby.

 

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