• Elizabeth Flora Nixon

‘Spectacle Shopping’ & Alice in Wonderland: the parallels in two worlds of warped reality





With online shopping as retail’s biggest fear, shops have had to address this with a radical tactic. Shops are re-branding... throwing in potted plants and fitting designer display units, crammed with carefully arranged door knobs and a curation of random vintage findings. A sudden aesthetic desire to become something they aren’t just as “a large rose tree stood near the entrance of the garden: the roses growing on it were white, but there were three gardeners at it, busily painting them red.” However, just like paint washing off; potted plants and trinkets would never be enough. Retail has explored the next level of shopping; curating places of spectacle and performance. Brimming with installations from renowned artists, the concept store is intended to be viewed not purchased… an interesting proposition, as the main goal is ‘to sell’. A warped take on conventional shopping, one might question their place within such a juxtaposition- just as Alice did when the gardeners lay down facing the ground as the procession entered.

Alongside metaphorical parallels, the visuals of these ‘concept stores’ are quite relatable to the intangible realm of wonderland. A place where one would be ordered to have their head chopped off for a sin (not so) innocent as “bringing the cook tulip-roots instead of onions”; and where you also find Cheshire cats in the branches; constantly battling with the inconvenience of shrinking smaller than the buttercups and growing larger than the house. These concept stores, paying attention to Louis Vuitton’s New Bond Street; are filled with bold colours, obscured geometric shapes and chairs hanging from the ceiling – far too high to sit on. With installations as thought provoking as these, you do question their purpose and place within the world of fashion. Do they have a purpose? Perhaps their intention is an uneasy one; are they are there to be questioned? Something familiar but just out of reach. Something just a little bit different, a little bit distorted. Interventions like these thrive in the design world; a merging of fashion, fiction, retail and architecture.

 © 2020 by Elizabeth Flora Nixon