The World's Best Holiday Windows Are an Early Gift to Us All
The unveiling of special department store holiday windows is a tradition I, for one, hope never ends. Every year, the biggest and best stores around the world spend time and energy to make their street-facing windows festive, but this year things are better than ever. In New York, Lord & Taylor kicked off the display game by unveiling its special creations in mid-November. Department stores across the city and in London were quick to follow suit, each interpreting the holiday concept in its own unique way — read on to see the best windows from around the world.
Barneys, New York
The Concept: With the idea of "Chillin' Out" as a launching point, Barneys created four unique windows that were variations on that theme. Of its four main windows, the team outfitted vignettes with an ice carver, an ice castle, a Winter racetrack in partnership with Lexus, and a site-specific work by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
The Struggle: First, the Barneys team had to make sure the ice wouldn't melt in its displays. That meant creating serious refrigeration situations and building a couple ice lockers. But for the Chihuly work, it all came down to lighting. Chihuly told us, "Lighting is one of the most important elements in all of my work, and the window space posed some challenges given that the piece needed to look good both during the day and at night." Chihuly and his team linked up with a digital lighting tech firm to make sure everything worked out perfectly.
The Verdict: So good. As we declared on Instagram, it was hard to maintain chill in the presence of these exquisite holiday creations.
The Concept: The team at Selfridges was inspired by the idea of "Journey to the Stars" and used constellations and astrology as the more literal interpretation of the concept. The idea worked well, as Selfridges has 12 windows in which to showcase each of the 12 astrological signs.
The Struggle: Selfridges was actually the first major store in the world to unveil its windows, debuting their creations at the end of October. Nonetheless, the team started planning a full year in advance with the help of 500 people and a total of 30,000 hours spent on installation. We'd say the Selfridges gang is overdue for a holiday break.
The Verdict: With 12 windows, there's something for everyone. London's Evening Standard dubbed the results an "extravaganza," noting that "2 tons of glitter, 450 meters of neon lighting, and 10,000 laser-cut leaves" were used.
Lord & Taylor, New York
The Concept: For 2015, Lord & Taylor was in a mind to share "A Few of Our Favorite Things." Its windows feature four animated holiday scenes, including a gingerbread kingdom, a holiday countdown, a cuckoo clock, and a sweets shop.
The struggle: The window displays at Lord & Taylor are never arranged on site. Instead, they're built elsewhere, then brought to the Lord & Taylor basement. Using hydraulics, the finished versions are brought up into the windows. Talk about planning.
The Verdict: At the unveiling, radio personality Danielle Monaro shared that she's particularly thrilled with the sweets shop window, which was inspired by Parisian patisseries.
Bergdorf Goodman, New York
The Concept: The Bergdorf Goodman team linked up with Swarovski, celebrating its own 120th anniversary, to create truly spectacular crystal-embellished windows. Its concept is titled "Brilliant," in honor of the newly renovated jewelry area on the store's ground floor. Each of Bergdorf Goodman's windows has a shimmering tableau, including "Crown Jewels," "Crystal Ball," and "Treasure Chest." The Swarovski and Bergdorf partnership extends beyond windows, with the retailer offering a number of crystal-covered holiday decor and gifts for sale inside.
The struggle: Apparently, literally millions of Swarovski crystals were used in the installation. That's a lot of tiny pieces, fumbling fingers, and glue.
The verdict: Designer Wes Gordon said it best when he dubbed the windows "incredible" in a tweet.
Harvey Nichols, London
The Concept: For 2015, the Harvey Nichols design team looked back — all the way back to the 1970s and the famed Studio 54 nightclub. The team's interpretation of the trend ended up involving major color and tons of gift boxes, which were stacked and decorated to resemble big faces in each of the windows.
The Struggle: The exterior of the store is covered with special enlarged sequins, all of which feature different personalities. A lot of painstaking planning — and attaching — went into achieving the end result.
The Verdict: The store contends that 1,000,000 glitter flakes were used in the decor scheme, along with 300,000 sequins and 600 mirror balls. One blogger admiringly dubbed the final product anything but understated.
Bloomingdale's 59th Street, New York
The Concept: This year's windows were inspired by the five senses, and Bloomingdale's brought in celebrity florist Jeff Leatham to help bring the idea to life. An ornate Christmas tree in one window is meant to evoke the scent of pine, and similar vignettes were created for sound, sight, touch, and taste. The taste window comes equipped with a peppermint dispenser!
The Struggle: Over 80,000 flowers were used to create the windows. Unfortunately, despite Jeff's background, there are no real flowers — only fake flowers would be able to survive for the length of the window's installation.
The Verdict: Very positive. Jane Krakowski, who attended the unveiling, told the New York Daily News that Jeff's work is "spectacular."