COS: Would you like to style the windows of our stores?
Me: Errr…. is this a convincing prank coming from a totally legit-looking domain email?
COS: Nope, we'd like you to style windows at the Regent Street, Covent Garden and Westfield stores.
Me: YES, yes, YES! *Emails boyfriend in excitement as we are both COS fanatics*
The gist of that imaginary convo there is pretty simple. I have indeed expressed my love for COS on numerous occasions and somewhere in COS' lofty head office, someone picked up on this. "Hey take a look at this chick wearing our clothes in a strange and misshapen way!"
I'm hoping they're not regretting their decision and whilst I had pretty much a free rein on the windows, I wasn't going to let the idea of 'carte blanche' go to my head. While budget and time didn't allow for say a Tim Walker-esque set, in a way, that was a good thing. In the end, it seemed simpler for me to look at COS really means to me as a plain old consumer which is a simple and direct message that speaks to me without too much of a backstory.
Going through the stores and picking out my favourite pieces, I decided to reverse mood-board it up, in the way that bloggers put together beautiful (not I alas…) collages, paying ode to their clothes and funnily, inverting the design norm where it's the moodboard that comes before the clothing. It also tied in with a set of photographs that I have been gathering up from vintage fairs, ones that have no personal meaning to me but seem to hold stories that are worth pondering. I especially love the ones with pencilled captions on the back. A simple "Marvin and I down at the docks" makes the intrigue bug set in even more...
It seems naive and probably a bit overly basic to break down the clothes by stores into knitwear, leather and shirting. Yet, the great thing about COS is that beyond thematic trends, great items in their own physical categories jump out at you as a 'great jumper', 'the perfect white shirt', 'THE leather dress'. Sure, I could spin some airy fairy theme. Like, this dress made me want to go sit on a hill and read Byron (not to say a COS dress CAN'T do that…) but that would be a treacherous path to embark on with clothes that are as direct as these.
Styling wise, in reality, I'd of course mix up different labels with the clothes but for the windows instead, I definitely wanted to play with layers, more so than normal COS displays usually do without going too far outside the box that makes COS attractive to messy me in the first place. Cue the normal tricks I normally favour - jumpers as shawls, cardigans as skirts, shirt over shirt, any headwear I can get my hands on (worked in my vintage aviator leather hat in the Covent Garden window… ).
Westfield Store - I actually had NEVER been to Westfield before embarking on this project. Too far west for me but I'm shamefully finding myself a bit of a convert. Not as far as I would go there every week but I'm definitely up for the occasional rainy day where I can go drown my sorrows in my beloved mix of Apple store, Foyles, a non-ransacked Topshop/COS, a huge Prada store and best of all... a handy Comptoir Libanais.
Covent Garden store - Weirdly (and this is probably fed from my devotion to the Regent Street store) this was the largest window to fill hence why there are four mannequins.
Regent Street store - Ah, the one where I'm most likely to pass by with my mum and go "Look mum, my name (well... nickname...) is there! I've achieved something with my life - you can cease all your incessant worrying and lead the rest of your life in satisfied peace." Ha - not.
Anyhow, I'm chuffed that it's all out there for a week or so… (or will it go the distance…?) Thanks to all the visual merchandising people at the stores for helping me with disjointed mannequins and hosiery problems.
Disclaimer: I'm anticipating that there be many a jaded/weary eye, the lo' "Oh this is clearly a paid for post…" outcry that pervades at the oddest of times. I'm therefore disclaiming here that, that is the case. It wasn't. I did it because of exactly what it says in the first half of the statement "Susie Bubble loves COS." So um…there! Wow, that felt good - yay me with my childish playground antics…
P.S. Apologies if this is all completely IRRELEVANT to people living in countries that haven't been COS-ified. As most of you know, COS is part of the H&M empire. Here's hoping that a) an online shop is on its way and b) international shipping will be offered.