*(pushing my way through tourists)
London turns into an incredible mass of sparkling lights in the weeks running up to Christmas. Whilst I was a bit disgruntled at the early arrival of the lights on Oxford Street, it does bring some festive cheer to these cold nights. But, to really experience the best of Christmas decorations in London, ditch the hoards of (brave/stupid, delete as appropriate) yuletide shoppers on the world's busiest street and head for Mayfair.
Normally New Bond Street and its surrounding streets make me uncomfortably aware that I don't fit their usual clientele, however, throw some glitter and baubles in the windows and I'm all over it. I was in awe of the detail that the stores had gone into to ensure that their displays were not only beautiful, but also reflected their premium positioning - their curation was almost museum-like.
In the realm of high end boutiques, two stood out above the rest: Tiffany & Co and Burberry. Tiffany's window displays were a great demonstration in how to showcase products in a festive way, without compromising their luxury credentials. By recreating recognisable festive scenes with their jewellery, they managed to bring the sparkle of Christmas to life in a new, inspiring way.
Burberry, on the other hand, went down a slightly different, but just as impressive route. Bringing in an element of movement to their displays, they managed to add a level of childish nostalgia, whilst staying premium. Arctic puffins, a running polar bear and meerkats all made this display fun and engaging.
On Oxford Street the shop fronts of John Lewis, House of Fraser and Selfridges all shout Christmas, but for a lesson in festive subtlety, a visit to Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly is called for. The message of their window displays 'Together We're Merrier' is wonderful and much needed after the whirlwind that called itself 2016, and is brought to life with the exact right balance of nostalgia, humour and festiveness. Bobble hats off to my winner of London Christmas displays - not gaudy, too sentimental or trying too hard, just sharing some festive joy in a sleek, well thought out manner.