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VM choice: Anthropologie at Galleries Lafayette

It is a measure of the distinctive personality of a brand if it can take a semi-open space in a department store and, without glimpsing the brand name, the customer can know exactly what the brand is. US brand Anthropologie, well known for its quality VM, manages this perfectly.

Its concession space in Galleries Lafayette in Paris announces the brand’s singular collection in its own fixtures and fittings, commencing with this array of seemingly found objects collated with current-season hair-accessories on a wall adjacent to the main aisle.

Set on recycled wooden boards on a feminine, pale shell-pink wall, hair-grips and hair-bands are displayed on six-inch zinc masonry nails. The adjacent bevel-edged vintage mirror catches the light and the eye. Directly below is a selection of hair-ribbons, all tied swatch-style.

The overall impression is of elements of a collection in progress, rather than of innovative merchandising. The artists’ palettes also neatly embody one of the tropes of the brand: to collaborate with designers and artists for limited-edition collections of apparel and accessories, thereby visually announcing the creativity of the brand.

The conventional wall fixture, finished in dark-steel with warm wooden shelves, is given added interest with a bright-green collage of green tissue paper behind. The slightly wrinkled surface contrasts with the immaculately-ironed appearance of the merchandise and the luxuriant potted plants on upper shelves. These confer a fresh, new impression, as quality flowers and plants do for all merchandise.

A selection of paint cans - with tasteful drips - across the very top shelves adds a little more colour, balancing the green backdrop with spring-like pastel yellows, pinks, and a touch of aqua. It is interesting to consider the effect of the display: on say, a plain white backdrop, the predominantly navy collection would look very sterile. Navy is the hardest colour to make look creative, associated as it is with uniforms. With this display, the collection appears creative, interesting, and fashionable.

The opposite wall is created from more distressed, up-cycled wood, and repeats a similar display. Yet the palettes form a fixture for display of the costume jewellery collection, in addition to being decorative.

A verdigrised up-cycled industrial metal and wooden cabinet, again surrounded by healthy plants, offers an opportunity to display signature perfume and toiletries.

Moving on to Anthropologie’s home and gift offer a new, freestanding, South or South East Asian open-backed book-shelf displays a range of soy candles, lanterns, and glass jars. The cabinet is displayed against a tree-patterned wall dividing the space from the adjacent brand, giving it an apparently patterned back wall. Although the underside of the shelves is not lit, the strong colour and the reflective surfaces of the merchandise mean the collection remains clearly visible.

The space between the two walls features a casually positioned up-cycled table arrayed with summer hats, a garment rail and the base plates of the mannequins. As with all the fixtures, the elements themselves are not unique or special, yet combining them with colour conveys the happenstance, up-cycling, eco ethos of the brand.

Truly, for Anthropologie, the VM helps make the brand.