The Therapeutic Practice of Window Shopping

Digital editor SÍOMHA CONNOLLY on the therapeutic practice of window shopping …

Photograph by Liadh Connolly

It’s early morning and a yellow cab drives down an otherwise deserted Fifth Avenue, stopping outside number 727. Out steps a glamorously dressed woman in a custom Givenchy black dress with a string of pearls around her neck, brunette hair piled high, and a pair of black oversized sunglasses shading her eyes. Her gloved arms hold a small paper bag containing breakfast of a croissant and coffee which she enjoys as she admires the contents of the whimsical window displays she has arrived to view. It is of course the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and we are following the protagonist, Holly Golightly, as she visits Tiffany and Co, the only place she believes will lift her mood when she is feeling down.

My maternal grandmother was an avid window shopper, she used to admire outfits in the windows of Clerys and Switzers as she walked through town. Spotting something she liked, she would race home to recreate it on her Singer sewing machine (she was a whizz on the machine and could reproduce anything she saw without a pattern). That love was evidently passed on to me as I can happily while away weekend hours browsing without purchase, content to observe and absorb ideas. Shop windows can both tell a story and sell a dream, and it’s not just fashion boutiques but florists and interior stores, cafés and chocolatiers, jewellers and grocers. A good window display will draw you in, stopping you in your tracks, even when you shouldn’t be shopping …

Om Diva, Drury Street, Dublin 2. Photograph by Liadh Connolly

In Dublin, Drury Street is a welcome breath of fresh air with its row of independent boutiques and thoughtfully curated window displays; from OM DIVA’s 21 brightly lit airplanes and a custom-made runway to usher in the new season collections, to INDUSTRY DESIGN’s window, with its focus on timeless design. But it doesn’t stop there, creative window displays appear all over the country. Emily Connell designs the windows at her Ballinspittle boutique CHALK AND EASEL, featuring new products and using local and seasonal natural props foraged from the beach nearby or her garden at home. Often, locals will call in with boughs, pumpkins or other nature props which they think she might use. Clodagh Murray at GRANNY’S BOTTOM DRAWER in Kinsale uses a selection of products designed and produced in Ireland, which she says makes her job of creating each window display easy, while Claire Graham and Tom Keane, owners of the OLD MILL STORES in Leap, Co Cork, place a carefully curated edit of design classics – from woven baskets to brooms – outside their shopfront.

There is a lot to be said for window displays and the stories they tell, the role they play in encouraging purchases, and the moments of escapism they provide in the fast-paced world we live in. There’s a reason it’s called retail therapy; even without purchase, the act of shopping can be deeply therapeutic. Shopping should be a restful time. An activity to savour. A pastime to enjoy, away from the ever-present glare of blue light emanating from screens. That’s why a spot of window shopping will always be part of our weekend itinerary, croissant in bag optional …

Appassionata Flowers, Clarendon Street, Dublin 2; Granny’s Bottom Drawer, Kinsale, Co Cork; Costume, Castle Market, Dublin 2; Industry Design, Drury Street, Dublin 2.
Woven, Banbridge, Co Down; Maven, 4a Maryville Avenue, Belfast.
Moda, Bank Place, Mallow; Anthony Peto, South Anne Street, Dublin 2; Irish Design Shop, Drury Street, Dublin 2; Millars, Main Street, Clifden.
Stable, Westbury Mall, Dublin 2; Chalk and Easel, Ballinspittle, Co Cork.
Indigo & Cloth, Essex Street East, Temple Bar; Optica, Dawson Street, Dublin 2.

Síomha Connolly

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