On the morning of April 12th, London’s Selfridges burst into life for the first time in nearly six months. Queues snaked around the block as excited shoppers lined up next to the Oxford Street Windows — decorated in lush greens and fresh foliage as part of the Good Nature campaign — and revelled in a nearly palpable feeling of new beginnings and brighter times ahead.
At a few minutes to 10 in the morning, the Selfridges doormen, with their iconic yellow umbrellas and bowler hats, readied themselves to do something they had been longing to do since last November — they opened the door to a shop floor that has been preened and polished, made and remade in preparation for this moment. As people flooded in, Selfridges team members lined counters and aisles, leaned in from the atriums and peaked over the bannisters, clapping the return of their customers, the animating force of the shop floor. Beyond the collective feeling of excitement and relief, there were a few misty eyes too.
Writer and photographer Alice Zoo is fascinated by how people construct meaning for themselves, often in the form of celebration and ritual. Alice was at Selfridges to capture the moment of re-opening. With DJs on every floor and new installations at every turn, the shop felt more like a party than a department store — and there was no shortage of reasons to celebrate. Here, Alice documents the return to the sensual pleasures in discovering new things, of passing time with friends or strangers, and of the simple joy of sharing an experience with people you don’t live with.
Accompanying the images below are reflections from Selfridges team members about how they felt in the weeks prior to re-opening. After an undoubtedly strange 18 months in the city, they share their experiences of lockdown, what makes Selfridges such a uniquely social space, and what they are most looking forward to about having the doors open again after so long.