The Shoe Galleries at Selfridges Oxford Street impressed with a distinct sensibility to elements of tactile contrast and surprise. Walking through the vast rooms one was never bored as each room provided a fresh take on materials, lighting and general ambiance.
Large polished retail space always poses an intimacy challenge: “to touch or not to touch?” Given that purchases of womens shoes tend to be of tactile nature, stroking the smooth suede and leather and studying clasps etc, one would think that department shoe spaces would be more obviously intimate. Yet, in spite of the vastness and grandeur of the galleries lighting and texture makes customers come closer.
Throughout I succumbed to invites to touch and feel the display settings of rugged drift wood, shiny brassy mirrors, gleaming yet unpolished marble pillars, Dalíesque velvety sofas etc. However, as I was lured into the touching game, the step was not far to touch all the lovely shoes. As seating opportunities were built in to many displays, sudden urges to try shoes on could easily translate into action.