Friday 30 September 2016

'Our shops should give a window to the Irish soul'

Iconic window dresser Gerhard Scully tells Claire Mc Cormack why we should be bringing love to the high street and not importing cast-offs from the UK

Claire McCormack

Published 21/02/2016 | 02:30

FINISHING TOUCH: Aoife Walsh with Window Doctor and former Clerys window dresser Gerhard Scully at the launch of the Go Green with Green Angel Skincare Challenge — a Guaranteed Irish-backed nationwide search to find the most creative window featuring the successful Irish skincare brand. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography
FINISHING TOUCH: Aoife Walsh with Window Doctor and former Clerys window dresser Gerhard Scully at the launch of the Go Green with Green Angel Skincare Challenge — a Guaranteed Irish-backed nationwide search to find the most creative window featuring the successful Irish skincare brand. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography

The man who made Clerys windows come to life is now on a one-person mission to improve the standards of window dressing in Ireland's store fronts.

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Gerhard Scully was responsible for window dressing for 25 of his 37 years at the iconic O'Connell Street store, where he was Sales and Merchandising Manager.

Gerhard, now establishing himself as a Window Doctor to the trade, is unequivocal in his views of modern window dressing in Dublin and beyond, which he describes as dreadful in the main.

"Brown Thomas, in my view, are the only people in Dublin who do good windows," said Gerhard.

"A lot of the rest are flown in from the UK and done by numbers and it's a crying shame."

Gerhard was speaking at the launch of the Go Green with Green Angel Skincare Challenge - a Guaranteed Irish-backed nationwide search to find the most creative window featuring the successful Irish skincare brand.

"Despite the resurgence in retail, people just aren't spending on window dressing any more - and they are missing out on an obvious way to attract both more spend and customer loyalty," said Gerhard.

"Now, if you walk through any retail hub, you see corporate and not creative. In my view, windows in the main are devoid of love."

Gerhard served his retailing apprenticeship in Cork in the Munster Arcade before moving to Dublin to join Clerys.

At the time of the brutal and sudden closure of the iconic O'Connell Street store, he was described as "the soul of Clerys".

Gerhard also gained experience as a buyer during the store's heyday and was an assistant to the Store Manager. He deeply regrets the closure of Clerys and was working on the store's plans to celebrate the 1916 Rising at the time the shutters came down.

"It was going to be two-month-long exhibition. Staff were going to dress up in costume," he says.

But that was then. Now he sees retail is on the up but after years in the doldrums he believes that retailers and traders must seize every opportunity to lure and keep customers.

"There are two key components to a good window - individuality and creativity.

"People need to bring their own things into a display, and make it in their own image almost. It should be something that they have designed themselves, put together themselves and shown that bit of love to."

Gerhard launched the Green Angel Skincare Challenge, which is themed around St Patrick's Day, along with former Miss Ireland Aoife Walsh.

For more details of the competition email: customerservice@greenangel.ie; Tel 01 412 4900. Gerhard can be contacted at windowdoctorgerhard@gmail.com

Sunday Independent

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