London's Christmas shop windows are well-known for their excellent design, colour and Christmas cheer. Window dressers' imaginations seem to run wild. Here are some of the window displays that caught my eye this year.
It's not always the big department stores that grab your attention. Pandora's shop stood out with its appropriate gold, silver and red colour scheme. The silver turned out to be an advent calendar on closer inspection.
Selfridges often presents the most outstanding Christmas display. The three large side windows displayed the words 'ALWAYS BE OPEN' in lights with moving curtains. It recalled the slogan #LondonIsOpen.
I found it hard to be open to Selfridge's concept of Christmas windows. Santa has evidently become very commercially-minded. A group of children posed for photos and selfies in front of the Santa in a ski lift window. Children are very obviously not Selfridge's target audience - or apparently Santa's main concern in 2016. The video of Santa dancing was fun, although the lyrics did not ring true. Santa in a hot tub surrounded by champagne? BAD SANTA!
|Selfridge's Santa in a hot tub surrounded by Champagne or Prosecco|
Santa on a jet plane with Frank Sinatra lyrics... Whatever happened to his reindeer? Whatever happened to respecting childhood illusions, Selfridges?
|Selfridge's sequinned Santa emerging from a jet plane|
The John Lewis department store has tied its Christmas windows in with the Buster the Boxer Christmas advertising campaign. The windows cleverly show Buster above ground and all the woodland creatures in their burrows. You even see the fox watching a video of the ad on television. There are lots of excellent touches as you look more closely, such as the two foxes pulling a cracker.
The John Lewis windows have a warm Christmas feel as well as displaying goods on sale within the store. The windows seem to appeal to children and adults alike.
Two of my favourite Christmas windows in 2016 are Fortnum and Mason and Debenhams. They use two very different approaches.
|Brightly-lit Debenhams store on London's Oxford Street|
Debenhams show extraordinary innovation in their Christmas window displays. Their windows succeed in pulling off an original approach to Christmas gifts. No static window displays for them. They offer colourful and glitzy inspiration for gifts to buy family and friends. The Found It Gift Factory offers an eye-catching, moving production line. The Sequinator was my personal favourite. There are also the Giftatron, the Shrink Ray and the Colourmatic 3000 windows.
|John Lewis: The Sequinator Window|
Fortnum and Mason are well-known for their Christmas hampers. I loved the flying hampers with angel wings in their side windows. The approach reminded me of J.K. Rowling's great imagination.
|Flying hamper at Fortnum and Mason|
The main windows bear the Christmas message of 'Together we're Merrier'. Each window shows characters that you would not normally expect to cooperate: a wolf and sheep, a turkey and chopping knife, a chef and lobster, a bull and a china teapot. The playful verse on each window was written by the famous comedian, actor, writer and TV presenter.
|Lobster and chef toast Fortnum and Mason's Together we're Merrier Christmas|
Fortnum and Mason win the prize for the most aspirational 2016 Christmas message.
I was disappointed by Harrods main window displays this year. The movement of their Burberry windows wasn't as good as Debenhams nor was the professional finish as good as Fortnum and Mason. I preferred John Lewis's foxes.
|Burberry shop window at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London|
We shouldn't forget that the main aim of a Christmas window is to get you to buy something inside the store. The Chanel windows on the side of Harrods literally beckoned you inside. I noted a new departure. The advertising did not use the full window, but cleverly recreated the shape of the famous perfume bottle. The video inside the bottle beckoned you to join the party inside.
The 2017 trend seems to be towards using more movement and videos in shop windows. Fenwick's traditional approach and, surprisingly the designer Stella McCartney's store, now look dated.
The static Christmas story and nativity scenes of my childhood memories seem to have disappeared altogether. There's just the occasional star on view. Plenty of imagination to be seen...
London's Christmas windows have something to appeal to every taste - from the traditional static to the highly innovative digital display.
|Dolce & Gabbana's Christmas Shop Window in New Bond Street, London|
Merry Christmas. Season's Greetings.
Best wishes to all for a happy, successful and prosperous 2017.