You know the holiday season is in full-swing in New York City when midtown’s massive department stores go all out with themed-window displays that put typical trees and tinsel to shame, and people from around the globe flock to see the works of art! From Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Land of 1,000 Lights”-themed windows that include a brilliant 10-story-tall theatrical light show on the front façade of the building to Lord & Taylor’s “Enchanted Forest” animated windows that depict scenes of a winter wonderland, here’s your guide to our favorite holiday window displays New York City has to offer:
Find zen amongst the holiday hoopla with “Love, Peace and Joy” at Barneys New York. The luxe retailer aims for a little levity with windows from five iconic artists—Rob Pruitt, Nick Cave, Ebony G. Patterson, Studio Job and Trey Parker and Matt Stone of Comedy Central’s South Park. Dennis Freedman, Creative Director at Barneys, tells The Cut that he wanted to return to the reason for the season: “We view this as a message of positivity in a time where the world needs it most.” They’ve made it easier than ever to put those positive vibes into action—snap a pic of yourself making either a heart or peace sign, or jumping for joy in front of the displays. Just be sure to share on social with the hashtag #LovePeaceJoyProject. The Barneys New York Foundation will donate $5 per photo to great causes such as STYLEFUND and The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation.
Go ahead and take a walk on the wild side! If store windows are dioramas for clothing, Bergdorf Goodman has taken the concept to lush and life-like new heights. Their theme, “Destination Extraordinary,” explores the natural world with dense and dynamic displays that combine the drama of jungles, forests, lagoons and gardens with high-fashion theatrics—think overgrown florals at their verdant peaks. David Hoey, Senior Director of Visual Presentation, was inspired by some works of art at the American Museum of Natural History. “The windows are like magical realist versions of natural history museum dioramas.”
The magic comes alive at the iconic 34th Street store with their beloved windows that celebrate the season: believe, celebrate, together, giving, love and magic! Roya Sullivan, Macy’s National Director of Window Presentation, tried to decorate through the eyes of a child—and, as you can imagine, that includes a bit of that old Saint Nicholas magic. We loved the imaginative peek at the bustling communication station where the big guy tries to keep up with his many adoring fans. If the window inspires you to talk to the man himself, it doesn’t just benefit your wishlist—for every letter to Santa that Macy’s receives, they donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Looking for something on the “lighter” side? Bloomingdale’s is looking at luminescence, who collaborated with eight visual artists to create fixtures that embody the artistic definition of the word “light.” The one-of-a-kind chandeliers by Abby Modell, Allison Eden, Susanne Bartsch, Inma Barrero, Sean Augustine March, Erika deVries, Jonan Meyer, George Kroenert and Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos are featured in the windows along with their inspiration. At the end of the season, the works of art will be auctioned off to benefit the Child Mind Institute, which works to transform the lives of children and families struggling with mental health issues.
Cuteness overload is achieved with Lord & Taylor’s “Enchanted Forest”-themed animated windows that depict scenes of a winter wonderland (the flagship’s façade features more than 9,000 feet of mixed garland, foliage, twinkling lights and cheerful holiday music!) filled with 34 hand-sculpted whimsical woodland creatures and over 350-square-feet of LED walls. “Lord & Taylor’s holiday windows are iconic,” says Liz Rodbell, President of Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor. “We are proud to continue the tradition of bringing joy and merriment to our customers and the thousands who visit New York City every holiday season.”
Twinkle wattage is turned all the way up at Tiffany & Co. as they capture the magical charm of New York City with their legendary displays. “We’ve created the ultimate Tiffany holiday, with dazzling displays that showcase trees trimmed with jewels and vignettes of iconic New York City landmarks that are a nod to our heritage,” says Richard Moore, Vice President of Creative Visual Merchandising at Tiffany. The metallic miniatures of NYC—including a lavish picnic in Central Park with jewel-filled holiday crackers, champagne and cakes; a vignette of Rockefeller Center with its iconic massive spruce, Prometheus in gold leaf and angels; and a silhouette of a Manhattan skyline that floats along the Hudson River—are just as charming as Richard promised.
Selfies are encouraged at Henri Bendel’s four-story holiday display! The store tapped street artist James Goldcrown (known for his “Love Wall” murals) to create an interpretation of his signature Bleeding Hearts mural for the Fifth Avenue landmark. “Having been a fan of his work for quite some time, we wanted our store to reflect a message of love and togetherness during the holidays,” says Pina Ferlisi, Henri Bendel’s Creative Director. “We thought James’ mural would serve as the perfect reminder to spread the love this season.” And indeed it does! Use one of Bendel’s branded selfie sticks while you strike a pose and share with the hashtag #BendelLoveWall. Once you’ve posted to your social for friends and family to enjoy, admire the extra-tall two-story tree adorned with equally oversized ornaments.
The window dressers at Saks must have a real sweet tooth! Their “Land of 1,000 Delights”-themed animated holiday windows come to life with confections a-plenty (have you seen those gigantic twirling lollipops!), showcasing fashion among whimsical treats and animated characters. Saks enlisted the talents of haute couture designers (Marchesa, Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu, Erdem and Naeem Khan!) to create “Candy Couture” dresses inspired by cotton candy, peppermint sticks and cake frosting. “Land of 1000 Delights is truly a candy-colored wonderland—one of the most fantastical holiday displays that I have ever seen,” says Mark Briggs, Executive Vice President, Creative, HBC. “My team and I had so much fun creating this delectable concept, and we cannot wait for customers and visitors alike to enjoy Saks’ sweet holiday sensation.” Bonus: Every 10 minutes from 5 to 11 p.m., the building becomes the backdrop for a 10-story tall lightshow.