November 23, 2020

The Fine Art of Window Dressing

by joeyphoenix

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From Peabody Essex Museum
By Victor Oliveira

It never fails to amaze me how downtown Salem transforms itself quicker than a rock star doing a costume change in the middle of a concert. It starts in the spring as a quaint seaside destination, with foot traffic picking up in summer. Then autumn arrives, bringing with it a complete change of color. In an instant, the Halloween craziness happens, overwhelming the city for six weeks.

Then, like a bell has rung, it all settles down in November and becomes a unique destination for holiday shopping. And this should come as no surprise. Show me another city where shoppers can find edgy clothing shops, specialty food and wine emporiums, unique gift stores and a magic wand shop all within a 10- block radius. Not to mention trendy restaurants, entertainment attractions and….one of the largest museums in the US plunked right in the heart of the city.

“Shop in Salem” broadside, designed by Harry Sutton of Salem, 1914. From the Essex County Ephemera Collection, courtesy of the Phillips Library.

Recently, the PEM shop team has stepped outside of the boundaries of our museum store and started to activate some of the shop spaces on Essex Street. One of which is 179 Essex, where the shop team was tasked with rejuvenating the windows for the season and to celebrate the museum’s upcoming show Made It: The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion.

Standing in vintage casement windows was a thrill, number 179 being the former longtime location of Bernard’s Jewelry Store. We immediately thought not only about the possibilities of bringing the windows to life, but what had been there in the past, in the days where strolling down the street to discover the perfect gift was the only way to shop. How many people peered through this same glass window? So our goal was clear, we had to revive the fine art of window dressing and create a classic department store holiday window feel….of course, adding a bit of PEM style.

Made it was a perfect inspirational exhibition, focusing on fashion and the women who revolutionized it. So the first order of business was to find out what our fashion curatorial team led by Petra Slinkard, PEM’s Director of Curatorial Affairs and Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles, had in mind for the build out of the exhibition galleries.

We zeroed in on a shade of HOT PINK that they had chosen for one of the walls and then decided to have the interior of the windows painted floor to ceiling in the same color. The name of the shade was Hot Lips Pink. We were powerless to resist. And if you visit during the evening hours, you will notice that the windows on the second and third floor of the building are washed in a matching pink light, courtesy of PEM’s own lighting designer, Henry Rutkowski.

SHOP LOCAL! Support the small businesses that make up your community and are owned by your friends, neighbors, and fellow community members.

If you are a business and are interested in being part of this initiative please visit and sign up for our comprehensive business program!

#staylocallynn • #staylocalsalem • #staylocalpeabody • #staylocalbeverly • #staylocalmarblehead

We wanted to shine a spotlight on many of the small businesses that make up the fabric of our communities and support them as much as we can throughout the Winter.

Stay tuned to this event for information on businesses throughout the North shore. We will be highlighting the humans behind the small businesses, showcasing specials and promotions, and also curating experiences that will make your local shopping even better!A priority this year will be to educate consumers on the safety protocols that so many of our fantastic businesses have implemented in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.