Book Review: Confessions of A Window Dresser by Simon Doonan

NEW YORK, Apr 17, 1999/ FW/ — “What kind of neurotic, exhibitionist psychopathology made me choose a career cavorting around arranging merchandise and props?” asks Simon Doonan.

His answer is in his book “Confessions of a Window Dresser” published in 1998. A witty, funny and almost hysterical point of view of the Visual Merchandising world, the book has hundreds of photos of windows and displays created by the author himself who is the Creative Director of Barney’s New York.

We met Simon at the Shop East Convention in New York last December, 1998. He was at the exhibition hall signing his books. I did not know who he was. A pixyish man, with a British accent, I thought that he was just another businessman visiting the booths. When I picked up the book, and started reading the inside cover, I started laughing. The initial question – “What kind of neurotic, exhibitionist psychopathology…?” was very descriptive of a job of Visual Merchandiser. Because who in their right mind would choose our profession? I have heard enough from my Mom telling me that I was too old to play with dolls, because that is what she insist to calls my mannequins.

Simon probably heard my laughter and that was when he addresed me. He asked, “You like that, huh?”

I said, “Yes, because this is so me. Whoever wrote this book knows and understands visual merchandisers.”

That was when I looked at the back cover and saw Simon’s picture, and I realized that I was talking to the author. And true to form of two window dressers talking, we started laughing. I said, “I apologize, I did not know it is you.”

Simon answered, “No apologies needed. You said what you think, which is what the book is all about.”

Needless to say, I bought the book. When he was signing it, he insisted that he should put my full name which he told me that he finds very old world and unique. He was even a good sport when I asked if I can have my picture taken with him. And although in his book, Simon said that Andy Warhol is the patron saint of Window Dressing, I would say that Simon Doonan is the Rock of Gibraltar of Window Dressing. His windows keep the world of Visual Merchandising in the headlines, creating respect for us window dressers who are usually behind the scenes and seldom seen.

Thank you Simon for that wintry day in December, when you made me realize that there is nothing wrong being a window dresser, that we should not be afraid to show the world who and what we are.