Interview - Luxury Retail
Fernando Gualteri, window dresser.
The purpose of moving through a window display
Fernando Gualteri (Instore)
Fernando Gualteri affirms that his job consists in “making people dream”. How is it achieved? Through the use of spaces that portray the essence of a brand and get to move the customer.
Gualtieri was born in Buenos Aires (Argentina). He studied “Product Visual Formation” — widely known as “Visual Merchandising” — at Institut de Design et d’Aménagement d’Espaces (IDAE), pertaining to Chamber of Commerce of Bordeaux. Fernando highlights at this point the existing difference between “visual merchandisers” and “window dressers”. The first ones work in big commercial groups with their own specific departments in charge of developing projects while the second ones focus on exclusive luxury brands that feature limited points of sale.
During his training, Fernando worked for both branches. Over the first years he had the chance of working for Zara, and later on for Versace, Lancôme and Roberto Cavalli.
” His experience makes him confident to reveal that both sectors ‘desire’ what the other one lacks. According to his words: “At Inditex they get surprised if you have previous formation in luxury. On the other hand, in luxury, if you explain your background at Inditex, they are aware you got an invaluable training.”
The reason for an interest in former Inditex employees resides in the fact that window dressers get a great training during their stay in the brand. According to his words, “every day you accompany a professional to get the window display ready of a different store every time.” In selected brands they also train their employees, but in a different way: they strictly focus on the features of their own brand.
So, what does it mean to be a window dresser or visual merchandiser? “We work on creativity, on scenery development and on visual disposition for events and window displays both fixed or in motion.” This task involves focusing on all aesthetic details of the store: Looks worn by shop assistants, playlists playing, how the store decoration looks like… “Everything has to be linked” — he states.
In the luxury business, the window dresser has to “make consumers feel necessity of products they don’t need.” In order to achieve this, he appeals to feelings while in search of moving his target.
He loves his job but reveals it is a very hard profession that is born from a vocation. Over several years, Gualtieri has worked as a freelance, a very common position in this sector. He was in charge of carrying out different tasks for brands spread worldwide. He reached those stores and, once the window display was ready, a store merchandiser was in charge of looking after the design settled. Although this professional has pretty creative freedom, he has to listen to the guidelines stated by the brand.
“This task requires a great sense of psychology and diplomacy” — he explains. Moreover, peculiarities of the areas involved have to be taken into account.” Although we try to handle a homogeneous image, there are many local adjustments of the product” — Fernando points out.
A year ago, the space designer joined the Instore team after having worked with them since 2004. Instore —pertaining to e-Commerce Networks— is a company of “retail marketing and luxury retail specialists” based in Madrid and London. From September onwards, it will also be located in Barcelona.
Nowadays, “many brands are demanding outsourcing the visual presentation of the product. They want to have an external outlook, mainly in luxury.” Instore is in charge of the design, production and installation of window displays that are incorporating audiovisual elements lately. Polo Ralph Lauren, BMW, Jimmy Choo, Chanel or Dior are only an example of the brands the company has worked with.
In Barcelona, the educational institution Escuela Superior de Escaparatismo, Visual Merchandising, Diseño e Imagen trains all these professionals while the master’s degree Máster Ejecutivo de Empresas de Moda at University of Navarra focuses on this subject. However, Fernando Gualteri affirms that there are few window dressers specifically trained for this task: “Most of them have really good taste, are keen on fashion and their first steps in the field were as shop assistants.” /tab]