I'm not sure I get the problem

October 5, 2005

[disclaimer is on the October 7th post]

I spent a whole year dressing the windows of the Georgetown Park Victoria Secret store. I’m looking at the pictures accompanying this morning’s Post story, “Skimpy Underwear, Ample Commentary At Tysons Corner – Shoppers Appalled, Transfixed By Racy Store Display at Mall” and I just don’t understand why there’s suddenly an uproar. I’m not seeing what’s so different from the old window displays. We were one of the earliest stores to start phasing out the white mannequins in favor of the flesh-colored ones, if I remember correctly, so I’m pretty sure those have been around for a while.

Maybe it’s just difficult to gauge from the pictures. Is it the shoes? I honestly don’t remember if the mannequins always wore shoes in the Good Old Days. Highheels and thigh-highs most assuredly create more provocative poses than barefoot mannequins, no doubt about that.

Mostly we had those stupid bustforms, which were a challenge to dress. On the upside, it was very easy to pin the merchandise on them so once you dressed them they stayed dressed. Mannequins aren’t as easy to manage.

Maybe if I saw the Tyson’s display in person I’d get what the fracas is about? I walked by a display at Pentagon City recently and don’t remember anything different, other than the fact that they are now cramming way too many mannequins into each window, which looks cluttered. The windows have never been artistic, they’ve always been a visual merchandiser’s definition of hell. Static and uninspired, with zero option for creativity or deviation from the designs dispatched from the home office in Ohio. It is, after all, a corporation with a visual identity to protect, I do get that.

From the pictures that accompany the article, it appears to just be more of the same.

According to an 8 month old complaint on a consumer affairs website in Raleigh, North Carolina, the VS display featured thong-wearing, blindfolded mannequins in suggestive positions. I could see that being questionable in a mall, but there’s not mention of that in reference to the Tyson’s article.

This part of the article was so funny I nearly choked on my coffee:

“I’m anxious to see for myself what the buzz is all about,” John Zolldan wrote in an e-mail to the mall management, “and if it is really true that Victoria no longer has any secrets . . . maybe your intent is to provide consumers in Northern Virginia with our first erotic boutique.”

Dear Mr Zolldan, you clearly need to get out more. Not only are the plenty of adult stores in Northern Virginia, but one local chain, Night Dreams has it’s flagship store in Tyson’s Corner. Driving, it’s .81 miles from Night Dreams to Tyson’s Corner, according to mapquest. As the crow flies, I suspect it’s roughly one quarter of a mile. Either way, it’s 2-5 minutes away.

(The Night Dreams site is probably not work-safe. I guess. Depends on where you work).

UPDATE: edited a few points for clarity. Specifically: why I mention shoes on mannequins. And that I understand why corporations want uniformity in their shop windows so that people can quit emailing me lectures on corporate identity and why individual stores don’t get to design their own displays. I get it. I get it. Really, I get it.

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