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VM choice: Emma Hope's shoes on the beach

This is the time of the year when notions of ‘the beach’ hit the stores of the Northern hemisphere in some form or another, and VM features windows filled with sand, shells, and driftwood.

Here in Emma Hope’s store at the corner of Chelsea’s Sloane Square an array of shells, fish, driftwood and sand is displayed in a complex example of the trend.

The shells have a ‘recently collected from a UK beach’ look about them rather than the exotic. A plastic Lionfish combined with a fancy gold fish, the kind with lots of frilly fins usually found in aquariums, sit a little incongruously with the traditional English summer holiday look suggested by the driftwood. But why not? This is an idealised summer scene.

Further along the open-backed window display, crabs have a thoughtful link with the trainers: open-toed shoes would look so wrong alongside those pincers. I like the proximity of the hessian netting to suggest that the trainers are just-caught and sea-fresh.

A shallow board across the back of the window adds a warm sunset touch, but prevents the interior from being obscured. Against the glass, the foreground is filled with a long wooden post, loosely wrapped in hessian netting, this adds to the charming serendipity of the window, with its happen-stance, just-found, feel.

I particularly like the sections of chestnut palings wedged at the back of the window, and the nostalgic air of simple beach pleasures they evoke. Held together by twisted wire, and used for hilly slopes and fencing in chickens, this cleft fencing seems rather rarer today than in the past. It is synonymous with other English pleasures: home-made picnics; travel rugs spread on the sands of English dunes; and slightly decayed holiday homes in remote, or slightly forgotten places.

This section of fencing has the display advantage that shoes can be hung from the horizontal boards of the fence, or squeezed between the vertical posts, but again it evokes the past in its decay. Note the upturned terracotta flower-pot half buried in the sand, almost as though this were the grounds of the nondescript 20th century summer-let bungalows that still litter the English coast on the fringes of now-fashionable summer resorts.

One section of the window alludes to perhaps a rather more glamorous vacation: the gold and sliver mules suggest more tropical climes than the British shells and chestnut palings. This is underlined by the puffer fish, so not of English shores. Exclusive resort hotels in Thailand or Bali are hinted at here.

If one of the purposes of VM is to convey emotion, and in so doing build or enhance the tropes of the brand, then this simple yet carefully considered window does that very well. 

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