New Yorkers on the whole are a jaded bunch. But if you suspend your cynicism, youÂ’ll remember why classic holiday activities like ice skating in the park became popular in the first place: theyÂ’re actually delightful.
One seasonal activity thatÂ’s truly worthwhile is marveling at the department store holiday windows. Take a stroll along Madison and Fifth Avenues and youÂ’ll see the handiwork of some of the best artists and designers in the world, including "Queen of the Night" set designer Douglas Little (Van Cleef & Arpels), and Hollywood power couple Baz Luhrman and costume designer Catherine Martin (BarneyÂ’s).
If youÂ’d like an in-depth look at the seasonÂ’s windows, WindowsWear runs near-daily guided tours past some of the most eye-catching displays. But if youÂ’re short on time, here are the five stores we think are really worth checking out.
MacyÂ’s is the most family-friendly of the big department stores and its seasonal window displays reflect that. This yearÂ’s theme is "SantaÂ’s Journey to the Stars," and the six windows tell the story of young protagonist Alex who rides through the solar system with Santa to see how Christmas is celebrated on the other planets.
As part of Baz Lurhmann's "Baz-Dazzled" holiday window project at Barney's, artist and sculptor Chris Cole has created an 8-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide talking owl which gravely speaks his words of wisdom, scored to PentatonixÂ’s version of MadonnaÂ’s Â“Holiday.Â”
Both live performances and elaborate electronic displays like this will occur in the Barney's windows until New Year's Day.
LetÂ’s not forget that, at the end of the day, window displays are supposed to sell real products to real people. At Ralph Lauren on Madison Avenue and Polo Ralph Lauren on Fifth Avenue, the designers have put as much effort into their lifelike mannequins as the rest of the display.
Whereas many store mannequins are just dress forms without heads, hands or feet, the Ralph Lauren mannequins function as motionless models. TheyÂ’re carefully posed and outfitted from head to toe; they also wear wigs, fake eyelashes and makeup.
Lord & Taylor
To mark the flagship locationÂ’s 100th anniversary, Lord and Taylor has created a Harry Potter-esque enchanted mansion. For the first time, the store has integrated video screens into its displays, like these moving portraits in the Hall of Wisdom.
Tiffany & Co.
By making its window displays smaller, Tiffany and Co. was able to incorporate actual jewelry into these pint-sized tableaus, which are about 40 inches tall. Inspired by New York in the 50s and 60s, the diminutive scenes depict landmarks like Times Square, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center Â— with a little added bling.
This year Bergdorf Goodman, New YorkÂ’s most exclusive department store, drew inspiration from the arts and created seven stunning visual displays representing various branches of cultural endeavour. Each one is itself an artistic feat, for example, the Architecture window was done entirely in paper, while Literature was crafted completely out of fabric.