“Without promotion, something terrible happens, nothing!”
—Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum (1810–1891)
Something does happen in the department store windows of New York City at year’s end. For decades the major department stores in New York City have put on a spectacle within their street-level windows. From mid-November to the start of the New Year, department stores and specialty shops treat window shoppers to a show. The windows become a feast for the eyes and ears, offering glittering images of the holidays, winter wonderlands and nostalgic feelings of the season. For the 2017 season Walk About New York brings you highlights from four well-known stores.
“I am a showman by profession…and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me.” —P.T. Barnum
Our virtual tour of the holiday displays begins at Bloomingdale’s, Lexington Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets. Here the windows’ theme is connected to the film The Greatest Showman, a film about P.T. Barnum.. Along with inspiring quotes from Mr. Barnum, a glittery aerialist, a full-figured fortuneteller, a bearded lady, a ringleader clad in red, and other circus folk entertain passers-by.
“Money is in some respects like fire: it is a very excellent servant, but a terrible master.” —P.T. Barnum
The Greatest Showman stars Hugh Jackman, and opens on December 20th. More than 7,600,000 Swarovski crystals were used to embellish the mannequins’ dazzling outfits and props.
“To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and ringing laughter.” —P.T. Barnum
Entitled “To New York with Love” the windows at Bergdorf Goodman pay homage to cultural institutions throughout the city. The glitzy and dazzling window displays are a creative tribute to the New York Philharmonic, Museum of the Moving Image, New York Botanical Garden, and the New-York Historical Society among others. The sparkle in these windows is also the product of Swarovski crystals.
This series of love letters to seven New York City cultural institutions is the brainchild of David Hoey, the department store’s visuals director. With fantastical depictions of the various institutions’ reason for being, these creations capture the Big Apple as the world’s center for the arts. One of the most striking windows is the Swarovski crystal-encrusted dinosaur skeletons that appear in the window dedicated to the American Museum of Natural History.
The Museum of the Moving Image, a lesser-known but vital institution located in the NYC borough of Queens, is shown-off with a display of vintage films of Central Park in winter, a neon-lit 42nd Street, and other sights that have withstood the test of time.
The jam-packed decorating style used for the windows showcases a festive celebration of visual arts, history, music, film and more. The windows are on view until January 1.
The flagship store of Tiffany & Co., at 727 Fifth Avenue, looks like a piece of jewelry that could be bought inside. The light display on the building’s façade has been used for several years, celebrating the fireworks display that the jewelry emporium sponsored at New York’s 1939 World’s Fair, and its fabulous yellow diamond.
Meant to illustrate the magic of giving a gift from Tiffany and Co., its famed blue box plays a starring role in its five, street-level windows. Traditional wooden mannequins used for sketching classes, here rendered in a silvery material, frolic amid festive scenes, including ice (slang for diamonds, remember!) sculpting, and an engagement ring hooked during an ice fishing outing.
The magic comes to us from Gene Moore, Tiffany & Co.’s lead visual executive. Mr. Moore has even included a replica of the store’s façade, with its Fifth Avenue doors open to reveal a Christmas trees decorated in diamonds. The windows are on view through January 1.
“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” —the Queen
“Why, Snow White is the fairest.” —the Magic Mirror
Saks Fifth Avenue, at 611 Fifth Avenue cross from Rockefeller Center, has been offering holiday window displays for 94 years. For the first time it has animated all its windows that face Fifth Avenue. Paying tribute to the 80th anniversary of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, its windows showcase scenes from the film. On-lookers will see Snow White dancing with two dwarfs, the seven dwarfs marching off to the diamond mines, and the Queen, disguised as the Wicked Witch, proffering the red apple to Snow White.
“Dip the apple in the brew. Let the sleeping death seep through. There! On the skin! The symbol of what lies within. Now turn red to tempt Snow White, to make her hunger for a bite. [offering the apple to the raven] Have a bite? [the raven flaps wildly, trying to escape] It’s not for you; it’s for Snow White. When she breaks the tender peel, to taste the apple in my hand, her breath will still, her blood congeal, then I’ll be fairest in the land!”
Saks’ light-filled window vignettes bring the fairytale to life. When the film was released in 1937 Franklin Roosevelt was president.
“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s home from work we go.”
—the Seven Dwarfs
Read our other Christmas-related articles.
NYC’s Christmas Windows, 2016
NYC’s Christmas Windows, 2015
General Washington’s Christmas of 1776
A Reindeer Yarn
An Older Christmas Tree Tradition
Knitting Christmas Sweetness
The store window Christmas decorations around New York City showoff a variety of artistic talent. There is other art around and under this great town. Remember our Subway Art Tours (we have five different routes) return to the schedule in January. Discover the art museum at the core of the Big Apple. Take the Tour; Know More!
ALL PHOTOS AND TEXT, EXCEPT CREDITED QUOTES, © THE AUTHOR 2017