The passing of Thanksgiving is never mourned for too long in New York City, thanks to the holiday spectacle that major retailers incite with the unveiling of holiday store windows. Some department stores have already gotten an early jump, like Macy’s, which revealed its holiday windows on Nov. 18.
The concept of holiday department store window displays was said to have started with Macy’s, as the retailer began featuring in the early 1870s. Since then, many gorgeous window displays have popped up in major retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor, much to the delight of shoppers. In New York, especially, window dressing has become a champion sport every holiday shopping season, as the major flagships construct bigger, bolder and better displays every year.
The Macy’s windows have featured live animals like kittens and puppies in the past, while luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman is known for its dazzling, wildly fantastic windows every holiday season -- an annual production that has tourists and New Yorkers alike pressing their noses to the Bergdorf windows.
The art of the holiday retail window is even commemorated and celebrated every year by visual merchandising and window display database, WindowsWear, which documents every retailer’s storefront around the world and determines a "Best Holiday Window" for its annual WindowsWear Awards (Bergdorf Goodman was awarded the best Holiday Window in 2015).
Now that the department store window decorations have been unveiled, here are the top five locations to scout out in New York this holiday season.
1. Bergdorf Goodman: Bergdorf’s consistently delivers a stunning retail window experience for the holidays and 2016 is no exception. In“Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” a 2013 documentary devoted to the legacy of the historic department store, viewers might remember the behind-the-scenes look at the origins of the store’s window displays and the interviews with Bergdorf Goodman’s senior director of visual presentation David Hoey. For 2016, Hoey has outdone himself again with his new “Destination Extraordinary” window theme, which features sprawling garden landscapes and jungle scenes. “These windows are landscapes of the unexpected,” Hoey stated, (via Time Out New York). “They are delirious remakes of the classic dioramas seen in natural history museums.”
2. Macy’s: The department store’s window theme for 2016 paid homage to Macy’s “Believe” campaign which helps raise funds for the Make a Wish Foundation. Taking a fun, tongue-in-cheek approach to the traditional of writing letters to Santa Claus, one of the windows depicts the variety of ways in which kids might communicate with him, from emailing to texting. Designer and national director of window presentation for Macy’s Roya Sullivan spoke to the child-like nostalgia of the 2016 theme: “In creating this year’s windows we wanted to focus on the idea of what Christmas meant to us as children,” Sullivan said in a statement for the brand's blog. “In thinking back to those feelings we kept returning to the idea of six key qualities that truly exemplify the spirit and magic of the season.”
In addition to “Believe,” the other core themes of the windows are “Magic,” “Love,” “Giving,” “Together,” and “Celebrate.”
3. Saks Fifth Avenue: This set of windows was voted for “Best Music” by the New York Times for 2016. The luxury retailer’s theme for this year is “Land of 1,000 Delights,” which pays tribute to the fantastical imaginary land in the holiday story of “The Nutcracker.” Larger-than-life lollipops and colorful candies adorn the window spaces, and viewers can even spot a window with “Nutcracker” characters Clara and the Mouse King. Viewers can also catch a light show which occurs daily, according to Time Out.
4. Barneys New York: The Barneys windows get an artistic spin for 2016, thanks to a series of artist collaborations. Nick Cave, Rob Pruitt, Ebony G. Patterson and even Trey Parker and Matt Stone of “South Park” inject this year’s window displays with creativity and humor (there is indeed a window devoted to Comedy Central’s “South Park” characters). Themed “Love, Peace and Joy,” the windows offer the perfect backdrop for photo ops, and when visitors post images using the hashtag #LovePeaceJoyProject, the Barneys New York Foundation donates $5 (per image shared) to STYLEFUND and The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation.
5. Lord & Taylor: The classic New York institution, Lord & Taylor unveiled its “Enchanted Forest” holiday windows for 2016. Each window shows wintery scenes and child-friendly dioramas featuring hundreds of hand-made forest animals. Lord & Taylor and Hudson Bay Co.’s senior vice president of merchandise presentation, Denis Frenette, commented on the windows’ creation, stating, “It takes our customers on a magical journey through a winter wonderland filled with spirited holiday animals,” Frenette said (via WWD).