Dressed in Hoxliday Style


Manhattan’s Iconic Retailers

Manhattan’s iconic retailers are renowned for their longtime tradition of creating spectacular themed windows to lure and entertain shoppers during the holidays.- By Regina Molaro

There’s simply no place like New York City for celebrating the season. Come December, Manhattan is revamped into an enchanting winter wonderland that is sure to inspire and delight. From the twinkling Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to the sparkle of the iconic crystal snowflake that graces the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, it’s certainly a magical time of year in the city.

As a longstanding Manhattan tradition, renowned retailers have been creating captivating window displays along the city’s biggest shopping streets. Every winter, New York City’s picturesque Fifth Avenue, which is lined with upscale department stores, chic designer shops and charming boutiques, gets decked out in its finest and most festive décor.

It’s no wonder that the enchanting winter scene surrounding Midtown Manhattan draws countless tourists and New Yorkers alike. Already filled with the holiday spirit, these spectators come to witness the grandeur and creative splendor displayed in this showing of seasonal glitz and glamour.

Barneys New York

In the past, Manhattan’s elaborate window scenes have depicted New York landmarks, historical moments and even pop culture icons. Renowned for its imaginative, compelling window displays, Barneys New York always channels its signature sense of style and wit into ultra-creative concepts. One noteworthy window was last year’s “Gaga’s Workshop,” which spotlighted the pop diva and presented an eclectic version of Santa’s workshop. Lady Gaga collaborated with the store’s artists on the theatrical window displays, which presented a glamorous gold “boudoir” scene.

This season, Barneys and The Walt Disney Co. unveil “Electric Holiday.” Fusing fashion and fantasy, this engaging scene is a celebration of modern electric lights, captivating music and glamour. Featuring an exclusive “moving art short” created by Disney artists, this display is showcased amidst a spectacular celebration of festive lights. A modern, three-dimensional electric light show was created and encompasses the Madison Avenue store entrance, spotlighting the moving art in the windows. To bring the show to life, Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino created an original score of highly charged music.

“In the tradition of legendary New York holiday retail campaigns, ‘Electric Holiday’ is a festive extravaganza that will delight people of all ages,” says Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products. “From the stunning visuals to iconic Disney storytelling and unique merchandise assortment, this collaboration is a celebration worthy of the season.”

The “Electric Holiday” art short features style-savvy models inspired by Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse, as well as other iconic Disney characters including Goofy, Daisy Duck, Snow White, Princess Tiana and Cruella de Vil. Cast in the spotlight, the models star in a fantasy Paris runway show. Each showcases a one-of a-kind fashion look created by a lineup of high-end designers, including Nicholas Ghesquière for Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana and Proenza Schouler, among others. Other fashion insiders are spotlighted as well—from designers to revered hair and makeup artists, photographers, editors, celebrities and beyond.

Tiffany & Co. 

Celebrating history and elegance is Tiffany & Co., the iconic American brand that dates back to 1837. The company, which is renowned for its spectacular jewelry, home accessories and high-style fashion, also has a long tradition of embellishing its iconic windows, which overlook Fifth Avenue.

“The holiday gift-giving season is a cherished time at Tiffany,” says Richard Moore, vice president of creative visual merchandising. “The displays reflect a magic and whimsy that is intrinsic to the holidays.”

Throughout the years, Tiffany has created some truly extraordinary displays that have made quite a statement both visually and architecturally. Among them, Moore says, is a past “dreamscape fantasy” scene that boasted a palette of blue and purple hues.

“The displays were magical exhibits of movement and architecture, drawing window shoppers into the story,” he says. “The windows depicted … a magical carousel hidden in Central Park. Suddenly, the animals mysteriously came to life. Zebras, lions and giraffes hitched themselves to sleighs that were filled with blue boxes, and they galloped into the night to deliver their special gifts. At dawn, the animals returned to the park’s carousel.”

Since there’s simply no place like home for the holidays, Tiffany’s 2012 windows celebrate that concept along with all of the surrounding nostalgia, heritage and romance. This year’s inspiration was the gift-giving season and time-honored traditions.

“Each window offers a glimpse into the precious moments that families celebrate during the holiday season,” Moore explains.

In an effort to provide a stunning backdrop for Tiffany’s sparkling diamond and platinum gems, muted tones of Tiffany blue artistically mingle with soft hues of gray and white. Of course, the iconic blue box has a prominent place in each window.

In one scene, the facade of a home boasts a Tiffany blue door adorned with a classic wreath. Snow softly falls from the sky, creating a warm, inviting display. Another window depicts a silhouette image spotlighting a couple sharing a romantic kiss. Finally, a mantle embellished with holiday greenery dresses another window. Tucked inside a stocking and dangling from the fireplace is the telltale blue box from Tiffany’s just waiting to be discovered.

Bergdorf Goodman

Situated on Fifth Avenue at 58th Street just steps away from Central Park is Bergdorf Goodman, an upscale department store that dates back to 1901. Housed in a traditional-style building, the store’s exterior is elegant yet understated. The store has been luring tourists and other spectators to its festive windows since the opening of the present store in 1928; however, the era of very elaborate displays began around 1997.

“Bergdorf Goodman has a reputation for extravagantly conceived holiday windows,” says David Hoey, senior director of visual presentation. “The windows often feature genuine antiques and unusual collectibles around which the company bases its high-fantasy storylines.”

Notable displays of the past include 2008’s window concept, which depicted each season of the year. All of the windows were rendered completely in white, and since Bergdorf Goodman has five major windows, it added an additional “holiday” season.

Hoey says that in 2010, the “Wish You Were Here” display highlighted the exploration of travel, featuring different modes of transportation, including a train, hot air balloon and a spaceship.

This year’s theme is “BG Follies of 2012,” which was inspired by the great theatrical spectacles that hail from the 1920s and 1930s.

“We sought inspiration from a number of historical sources, including vaudeville stage design, the Ziegfeld Follies and Busby Berkeley musicals,   art deco and the great theater palaces,” Hoey says.

More Holiday Must-Sees

Spectators have come to expect grandeur and awe-inspiring concepts from these renowned retailers, but there are also a handful of other high-profile shops—such as Alfred Dunhill, Ralph Lauren and Montblanc—that dazzle with captivating window displays.

Attention to the finer details, elegance and practicality are celebrated at the Alfred Dunhill men’s shop, which is located on Madison Avenue and 53rd Street. This year’s windows celebrate the brand’s gifting guide, which was produced in conjunction with its new Alfred Dunhill magazine.

The windows depict the “classical” still-life photos shot by renowned photographer Irving Penn. The use of roughcast white plaster fruit and cutlery scattered amongst plates and goblets replicates the gifting guide’s aesthetic, yet it still allows the product to stand out from the festive feasting scene. Colored lights in simple red and green hues add a pop of color.

Another favorite brand, Montblanc, has created well-crafted writing instruments, watches, fine leather, chic jewelry, eyewear and more since 1906. Located on Madison Avenue and 57th Street, the boutique is near the center of the Midtown holiday scene. Joining in the New York tradition, this location has been creating holiday themed window displays for 10 years.

“We thrive to make our customers feel the heritage of our brand through our holiday windows,” says the company’s creative director, Carlo Giordanetti.

This year’s warm, elegant and romantic scene highlights an enchanted forest that is sparkling with glowing lights. A display of festive red and silver gift boxes, all with contrasting ribbons, enchants viewers. “It creates a dreamy atmosphere in which Montblanc creations are highlighted,” Giordanetti says.

Also known for a classic sensibility and respect for American tradition is Ralph Lauren. Its history of creating holiday window displays dates back to 1986 when it moved into the current flagship store at the historic Rhinelander Mansion, located at Madison Avenue and 72nd Street. This year’s theme for the women’s store is a “Doctor Zhivago” snow palace, while the men’s shop will boast a Saville Row tartan concept.

While you’re in New York City and staying so close to the festive Fifth Avenue shopping scene, be sure to catch these windows, which are on display through early January 2013.