The year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is a tremendous event in our nation’s history. It is also an excellent excuse for Fortnum’s to decorate the whole store in a special Jubilee display that will last throughout this exceptional summer.
Fortnum’s is famous for its fabulous window displays, so the year of the Diamond Jubilee was a cause of great excitement. At first, of course, it meant that we could design special Jubilee windows as a backdrop to the public celebrations. But rather than stop there, we decided to decorate the storefront from top to bottom, just as we did for the Coronation in 1953.
The store decorations began with the windows, which started to take shape many months ago with some initial sketches by Fortnum’s window designer, Paul Symes. The focus of the displays was to be the Queen’s Beasts, which are the thread that runs throughout all of our Jubilee designs. The Queen’s Beasts are a collection of animals, real and mythical, which represent our monarch’s ancestors, from William the Conqueror onwards. They featured at the Queen’s coronation and have appeared on royal coats of arms for centuries, but for 2012, they’ve taken up residence at Fortnum’s, appearing on everything from jars of marmalade and bottles of champagne to bone china teapots.
As the original beasts were quite fearsome – they were often used on shields and pennants on the battlefield – we cheered them up by painting them in bright colours and giving them garlands to wear and musical instruments to play. In their cheerful new apparel, they seem to be taking part in a joyful parade rather than going into battle.
Starting with this central concept, Paul came up with a series of ideas, including a huge musical stave sculpted out of metal, which cascades like a ribbon down the outside of the building and down through the inner atrium. Emerging from a sixth-floor window, it seems to snake down the inside and outside of the building in a continuous strand, carrying with it a shower of musical notes.
On the storefront overlooking Piccadilly, the lions and unicorns and other regal beasts stand proudly on the balconettes, guarding the store. Ribbons and crowns decorate the fanlights above the windows, and in the windows themselves stand the imposing figures of the Queen’s Beasts, linked by a musical stave that joins each window to the next as if in a continuous melody. Turntables in the windows revolve slowly to reveal a different beast on either side, playing their instruments and standing hoof-deep in an array of Jubilee biscuits, cakes and mugs and other commemorative items designed for this historic year. The final touch is some dramatic backlighting, which illuminates the figures at night, creating a stunning scene right in the middle of Piccadilly.
The Jubilee is such a rare occasion that it will be quite a while before the next one comes along – so this is perhaps the one set of Fortnum’s windows that simply can’t be missed.
To read more about each of the ten Queen's Beasts, please click here