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Melbourne's Wackiest Shop Windows

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by Debbie Lustig (subscribe)
My work has been published in The Age, The Herald-Sun, The Australian, The Big Issue, Australian Birdlife, The Bark (USA), Eureka Street, Overland and The Australian Jewish News.
Published December 8th 2013
Enjoy the view with Melbourne's oddest shop windows
Untitled Cafe & Art Supplies

The art of window display has a venerable history dating back to the first department stores in the mid-19th century. A shop window must make an immediate connection, drawing in customers and signifying the goods that await within.

A good shop window will attract the eye with design elements like colour, texture, lighting and line. And then there are the window displays that leave you slack-jawed.

Odd, old-school or plain wacky, the following shop windows always repay a second glance.

art, supplies, window display, design, paint, paintbrush, creative, shop, sales, pencil
Enjoy them as art - ingenious paintbrush display

It's hard not to gape at the displays in Untitled Cafe & Art Supplies' windows. Above the items for sale is a a perfect arch of suspended paintbrushes. This is best appreciated at night when downlights lend the creation an extraordinary drama.

Beneath it are pencils, paints and other ordinary artists' supplies. But the owners like to display their skeleton as well. The reclining figure under the brush arch is, to say the least, memorable.

The art supply shop has a cafe next door. Reviewed here.

Hattam's Menswear in Elsternwick is a venerable old drapery that stocks up-to-the-minute outfits. Shirts are uniformly striped or checked and trousers include everything from Levi's to Hard Yakka. They've even got a cash railway - a system of wires and pulleys that transported money around shops before modern cash registers. It's in working order and staff are happy to demonstrate.

Hattam's Menswear

These windows are unself-consciously retro. Hand-lettered price placards adorn the items and the merchandise is changed often. Displays are so daggy, they're cool.

shops, shop windows, old fashioned shop display, menswear
Hand-lettered price signs

I don't know about you, but every so often, I get the urge to dress up as a Super Mario Brother. Or Marie Antoinette. Or Darth Vader, Alice in Wonderland, a ballerina, a gangster, a rabbit or a pirate. And The Fancy Dress Party Place stocks all those outfits, plus around 1000 more.

The windows are changed to reflect the seasons (Halloween, Easter, Christmas) and popular movies and stage shows (The Great Gatsby, King Kong).

The giant penguins belong in a category of their own. They're a bit like overweight onesies and, I'm told, are very hot to wear. But they make eye-catching shop mannequins.

fancy dress, shop display, retail display, shop window
The Fancy Dress Party Place

This shop promises to make your wildest, childhood dress-up box fantasies come true.

fancy dress, shop display, retail display, shop window
Scary penguin suit

Where are your favourite unusual shop windows?
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Why? Because it's fun to window shop
Where: 3 locations in Elsternwick
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Fabulous idea for an interesting article :)
by Joy (score: 3|1945) 3044 days ago
Love the paint brushes, Love, Love. Love the skeleton! Another suggestion for memorable shop windows, and exterior for that matter, is Rose Chong's costumiers in Gertrude St. Fitzroy, this leopard print clad store beckons you in with a promise of fantasy and fun and delivers completely.
by mumma (score: 0|4) 3121 days ago
Great! Will check out these suggestions
by Debbie Lustig (score: 2|529) 3121 days ago
these all look great.
btw the penguins are from the movie happy feet
by dargo (score: 1|82) 3119 days ago
I really like the art supplies Window very clever and lots of measuring! I love the the Apple Store in fountain gate too. Same genre.
by Francien (score: 1|79) 3121 days ago
Great idea for an article! Love it! I will certainly go and check out the Untitled Art Supplies shop :)
by Fiona Anderson (score: 3|1070) 3066 days ago
An old-fashioned shop window can be found at Dartnell's Pharmacy in Surrey Hills. It's an out of this century / world museum of antique bottles and weird and WOW dispensary stuff. You must take a look.
by rdean (score: 0|2) 3064 days ago
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