En France, l’étalage jouit de l’incontestable prestige d’être un des rares métiers vraiment libres. Rien n’empêchera le passionné d’étalage de prouver son don…. la qualité de l’homme engendre la qualité de l’œuvre . . . Walter Herdeg, Répertoire International de l’art de l’étalage, Vol. 2
The Hague’s Zeeheldenkwartier is bustling with cafés, coffee-shops, vintage boutiques, flower shops, toy shops, furniture shops, whatever shops, all competing for the passer-by’s glance through their elaborately styled shop windows.
If you have walked past Piet Heinstraat 25, you may have noticed one particular shop that changes its windows every so often (to be precise, every two weeks), from Mexican dance and Frida Kahlo, ole ole! to Tin Tin’s adventures at the Blue Lotus, to beautiful dresses inspired by Delft Blue, to 1960s black and white minimalist fashion. One may at first think that such a high-end vintage shop, showing off the occasional Dior skirt in the window, may be out of one’s price range. Not to worry: it is a Schroeder, with the average item costing a mere €3.00. The secret behind this particular Schroeder, and the reason why it attracts the kind of clientele who would normally shop somewhere more “upscale” is the woman behind the shop window.
Originally from France, Laurence Dubuisson has worked for Schoeder in the Hague for three years; two years ago, she decided to add her own little personal touch to her job. She’d always had a passion for interior design, having worked as a freelance stylist, for dress and home. The store-front was boring, and she wanted to change that; she started making a few changes here and a few changes there until she decided to just stylise the entire thing her own way.
The first shop window, Christmas-themed, was such a success amongst shoppers that she decided to continue –“once I started, I couldn’t stop” she told me. “Everything was sold so quickly. Our sales tripled. There might be a skirt left unsold for weeks, but once I put it on a mannequin, add some jewellery, a belt, place some furniture around it; then bam, it’s gone in two hours. The only complaints I get are from people unhappy that everything in the window is always reserved!” Indeed, everything is about the presentation. Laurence finds the paraphernalia that just “click” with the clothes donated to Schroeder through her own personal collection, friends, and Schoeder itself, in its used furniture and objects department. Her process is mostly intuitive; a pair of transparent Doc Martin boots are donated to the shop, which leads her mind to the hip 60s; so, she gathers everything transparent and silver she can find, a friend has a retro camera, some transparent vases from Schroeder, her own fashion book set to just the right page, then… voilà!
The same process with her nostalgic Tin Tin design; a pair of donated silk Chinese-dragon pants led her to think of Le Lotus Bleu, and she basically had all the rest, with just another piece her, another piece there. All at the last minute, the different elements all just fall into place. “When it’s your passion to make something pretty, you just do it.” Such a success for Schoeder, as well as for the aesthetic life of Zeeheldenkwartier, is all thanks to this one woman’s passion for style. Had she not this itch to match colors, objects, accessories, well, most people would not have been as intrigued by the shop window to step in. Such is the magic of design. A few Riviera-style dresses led her to borrow a huge poster of the hunk Marcelo Mastroaiani, then she just had to add Illy coffee cups and pasta and bread sticks. For just 4 euros, you can feel like a movie star yourself. Maïra al-Manzali 24th August 2019
Photo courtesy of Laurence Dubuisson