Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Look Through Any Window

"Walking along past the store windows, into which she peers with her usual eagerness, her usual sense that maybe, today, she will discover behind them something that will truly be worth seeing, she feels as if her feet are not on cement at all but on ice. The blade of the skate floats, she knows, on a thin film of water, which it melts by pressure and which freezes behind it. This is the freedom of the present tense, this sliding edge." 
~ Margaret Atwood 

Lately, I've become obsessed with photos of department store windows, the older the better, and especially if the windows are filled with hats, collars, bloomers and other items we don't often see today. Here's one example, and apologies for its small scale.

This is the window of the Godchaux Department Store, which once stood at 527 Canal Street in New Orleans. The photo was taken in the first half of the last century by John N. Teunisson and is now part of the Louisiana State Museum's Amica collection. Just look at the fanciful display of hats — come on, you know you want one! (By the way, I am also a little obsessed with great hats. Despite the fact that I look terrible in most hats, I believe we would all feel better about ourselves if we wore them more often.)

Like so many once-great department stores, Godchaux is long gone, but it was a New Orleans shopping mecca and landmark for decades. Here is how it looked in better days.

"I went window shopping today! I bought four windows."
~ Tommy Cooper


  1. 1st June 2011

    I'm humming along to the Hollies singing "Look Through Any Window" as I read through this blog. I've hopped on over from my mailbox where I enjoyed today's delivery of Divinipotent. It features more wonderful shop windows, and had a link to this older blog post.

    You always grab my attention, and it's never a disappointment when I read your work.

    I too am obsessed with hats. My preoccupation began when I was obliged to wear them whilst on Civic Engagements in the role of Mayoress of my Borough. Hat's don't suit me either because I wear spectacles and having such a small head usually means any kind of hat I stick on top of it, slides down over my ears! Why don't hats come in different sizes!

    So hats, and I now have a collection which probably numbers 2 dozen, are a significant piece of apparel in my wardrobe.

    Thank you for sharing these old photos with us. I absolutely love the old photographs capturing some of the most amazing shots of city architecture that I've ever seen. Those old store windows were SO much more inviting than the sterile things we now have lining our pavements (perhaps I should say sidewalks!).

    Bring back character into shop windows, that's what I say!

  2. "Despite the fact that I look terrible in most hats, I believe we would all feel better about ourselves if we wore them more often." That made me laugh, because me too, and me too!

    Love this post.

  3. LadyBizBiz, it hadn't occurred to me that a mayoress would require a wardrobe of hats. The only other civilian jobs I can think of that requires hats are American football, baseball and building construction, and those hats have no charm at all. We need more jobs that require great hats.

    A woman I used to work with was known for her fabulous hats but then stopped wearing them. I saw her the other day and she explained that when her sister was dying of cancer, hats drew too much attention — she didn't want to make a spectacle of herself. But it's been a few years now, and she's starting to wear the hats again. I encouraged her to continue.

  4. Hi J,

    Isn't it a shame that so many people who would look great in hats don't wear them? I'm going to buy a new one soon, despite how horrible it will look. It's summer, I need a big brim and my old hat just won't survive another season. Wish me luck!