Behind the scenes of The New Order windows

Over 130,000 people walk past our Oxford Street windows every day, but how many of them know the story behind the displays? Here, we take a peek behind the scenes of the windows for our new creative campaign, The New Order.    

The future starts here

Our design team starts concepting the windows about four months before they are revealed to the public. From exhibition trips to hours of visual research on art and design trends, the team seeks inspiration from all corners of the creative world. “The New Order is all about digital art and technology enabling the future of fashion, so we came up with the idea of creating otherworldly, dystopian and utopian landscapes into which this season’s latest drops have crash-landed,” says Bobbie Tree, Windows Design Manager. 

A virtual world

The New Order windows merge the physical and digital worlds more than ever before via screens featuring 3D-animated worlds.

“By using digital art in the windows, we’re engaging with the rise of the New Aesthetic, which is the visual language of digital technology and a reflection of our information-saturated age,” says Lea Sorli – Creative Researcher at Selfridges and DIGI-GAL member (a network and platform for womxn 3D designers) – who created the animations in collaboration with the windows design team and Motion Graphic Designer Christina Worner.

For the first time in Selfridges’ window history, digitally rendered products will be directly shoppable from the windows from 22 August. “We picked the items we would have used to dress the mannequins, and sent them to Cat Taylor [the founder of DIGI-GAL] who 3D-scanned them and created digitally rendered versions, which are displayed in the windows via screens,” says Emily Outhwaite, Assistant Styling Manager. “It allows passers-by to see how the clothes move rather than simply being static, and they can shop directly from the window via a simple scan of the QR code.”

From chaos, creation

The windows go into production between eight and 10 weeks prior to launch. This starts with material research and sourcing, briefing craftsmen and prop specialists, site and build visits, and finally the install.

“We commissioned Charlie Whinney – an Eco-Artist specialising in wood steam bending – to create a bespoke sculpture. The wood comes from an ash tree that has been bent into a beautiful curved installation, using the ancient woodworking technique,” says Amy Fox, Production Manager.

“London Mouldmakers created casts of real rocks for our dystopian crash-landing scenes. Even though they are produced using bright-coloured pigments, it’s still important that they look like real rocks – it’s all about the attention to detail,” adds Amy.

“We are continually seeking out more sustainable materials to use in the windows. We’ve worked with recently graduated Artist Charlotte Kidger, who develops new materials and furniture from industrial waste, giving it a new life.”

“The installation of the windows happens over six to eight nights, with 20 to 30 people working each night to complete the build. When the display comes to an end, we work with charities such as New Life to re-use and recycle everything so little is sent to landfill,” explains Amy. 

A window to the future 

With retail and technology evolving at break-neck speed, how is window design changing?

”Windows used to be an advertising tool for products, but customers expect more now,” says Emily. “We’ve moved away from using traditional mannequins; instead focusing on alternative fashion forms and innovative new ways to showcase products. Our aim is to create captivating scenes that are more like art pieces in their own right; something that will make somebody want to stop and take a photo. Of course, digital mediums are allowing us to bring the windows to life more than ever. For the future, the potential for holograms and live interactive digital experiences opens up a whole new world of possibility.”