Janet Wardley is head of visual display at Harvey Nichols. She has been designing the window displays for 24 years.
Words by Charlotte Pasha
What does your job entail?
I am responsible for the window and internal displays for all of the Harvey Nichols stores in the UK and Ireland.
It’s a challenging but massively rewarding role. I work with the team to design, build and organise our window displays across our stores.
We work with the local display teams to bring these schemes to life.
What is the best bit of the job?
Working with the team to create each new window scheme and to see them come to life is really satisfying.
The store has such an impressive run of windows in a wonderful location. It’s an amazing space to showcase our work in.
It’s also a wonderful moment when we ﬁnish a scheme and walk over to the other side of the road to take in the whole line-up.
Why is Harvey Nichols such a wonderful place to work?
The store is a perfect size to work or spend time in.
It’s large enough to hold lots of amazing brands and house exciting pop-ups and events, but small enough that it doesn’t become impersonal or overwhelming to walk around.
The Harvey Nichols brand is so iconic.
It has such a unique identity that it gives us lots of scope to be creative and experiment.
My role never becomes dull.
What has been your career highlight?
My past favourite is Shopfronts from 2012, when we turned the windows along Knightsbridge into a row of individual 1950s store fronts.
The stores included Harvey Knickers ladies’ lingerie store and H. Nichols & Sons, greengrocers.
This was to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and we decorated each store with bunting.
How did you get into visual display and merchandising?
I originally wanted to become a fashion designer, but I went to college to study display and design instead.
After that, I got a job as a window dresser and have worked in the industry ever since.
What is the process behind designing a single window?
To start with, I produce a moodboard to set the feel for the window scheme.
I then work with the team to develop this into a window design, trialling different prop designs in our workshop.
The window design is then drawn up and colours and ﬁnishes tried in the drawing to see how they look and feel.
The design is then presented to our management board and put into production in our workshop.
Once the props are ﬁnished, they are installed in the windows and dressed with complementary products from the store.
How do you want to make people feel?
“We use our windows to communicate with our customers in an interesting, engaging way. It’s not just about selling products.”
It’s more important that we create something that presents the Harvey Nichols brand in an exciting, positive way with an element of entertainment.
Who are your fashion icons?
My fashion icon is Alexander McQueen.
I really felt a connection with the way he could create such beautiful clothes, but with a really interesting darker side that made them even more intriguing.
I was lucky enough to feature some of his beautiful catwalk creations in our windows.