Window at Snow’s Department store, 1941 (State Library of NSW, hood_10452)

Window displays were one of the most important selling spaces within the ‘big stores’.

The Home, April 1932
Modern lighting for modern windows (The Home, April 1932)

The most celebrated window dresser working for Sydney’s department stores was Henry Bindoff. He was feted as ‘Sydney’s Window Wizard’.

From the early to mid-20th century, Sydney’s modern department stores used the vast, gleaming expanses of plate glass windows at street level to display their wares as a way to lure customers inside.

Women’s winter fashions at Snows, 1947 (State Library of NSW, Hood_11454)

Bindoff was the display manager at David Jones from the 1920s through to the 1950s.

It was said that he elevated window dressing to an art form.

nla.gov.au/nla.news-page4808092
Behind the scenes window designing, 1956 (Australian Women’s Weekly, 8 August 1956, nla.gov.au/nla.news-page4808092)

Like other window dressers working in Sydney’s department stores, he was backed by a trained and experienced staff that included artists, electricians and carpenters.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 24 August 1946 (nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47505564)
Step by step: how to design a window display (Australian Women’s Weekly, 24 August 1946, nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47505564)

Window dressers were reliant on tools such as fluorescent lighting, non-reflective plate glass and the latest fashion mannequins. They used ‘successful secrets from the stage’ including spot lighting and coloured light.

Department store windows could take between three months and a year to plan and put together.

Although the importance of window displays has waned as the fortunes of many of Sydney’s large stores have also waned, the David Jones special windows for Christmas and Spring continue to entice passersby.

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