By Faith Hope Consolo
Look around; the cheer is here and the shopping landscape is adorned with jewels of the season. It is the spectacular array of Holiday Windows and the competition is on for who is the most innovative, most decadent
and downright heavenly.
We begin our tour with the “B” icons—Bergdorf, Barneys Bloomies, and Bendels. The City is decked out with Windows Yule Love!
Bergdorf Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue is a superior take on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Each of the five main windows tells a whimsical tale all made out of paper. This display calls for close examination of the intricate scenes as delightful and magical as the store itself.
Did I mention that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the UNICEF Snowflake, an iconic holiday fixture hanging high above the crossroads known as the four jewels, the intersection of 5th Avenue and 57th Street where Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Tiffany and Bergdorf Goodman meet. Handcrafted by German lighting designer Ingo Maurer and adorned with sixteen thousand Baccarat crystal prisms it is a whopping twenty-three feet in diameter, over twenty-eight feet in height and whoa… weighing in at three thousand, three hundred pounds! This sparkler has been crowned the largest outdoor chandelier of its kind.
Barneys at 660 Madison Avenue, celebrates the 35th anniversary of Saturday Night Live with “Have a Witty Holiday” Papier maché sculptures represent personalities that have been represented on the show over the years as well as jokes and satirical impersonations of celebrities and politicians. Everything is made of recycled materials.
Bloomingdale's at 1000 Third Avenue is a glittering, sparkling jovial take on the spirit of the season featuring a rainbow teddy bear, a giant snowman Santa is holding a small child and a “smile-o-matic”, a TV screen with live streaming from the front of the window. Harry Connick, Jr performed for the unveiling. Last but not least is my personal favorite – a Christmas tree made of stiletto pumps.
Henri Bendel -- 712 Fifth Avenue, stays true to its iconic colors- brown and white and is a virtual explosion of sparkle and shine. The mannequins are dressed completely in brown and white Swarovski crystals.
Saks Fifth Avenue -- 611 Fifth Avenue with scenes from their very own holiday children's book "Twinkle Twinkle Little Flake" and her travels throughout the world complete with Twinkle audibly playing to the people enjoying the scenes. Windows are operated by Windows 7 and have 20 synchronized video monitors and 3-D animations while one of the windows lets you send holiday wishes via Twitter. Most impressive are the glittery snowflakes that drizzle down each pane and fake snow dust gathered in piles at the bottom.
Lord & Taylor at 424 Fifth Avenue are a tradition take on some of our favorite things about Christmas traditions. Tiny figures skate, put up decorations and open presents. One window displays toys over the years from antique and modern. A delicious window is all about baking and the houses are made of gingerbread. French horns, bells, and ball ornaments as well a fireplace with several stockings hanging from the mantle enhance the scenes. I can smell the hot chocolate from Sarabeth’s!
The Miracle on 34th Street--Macy's, Herald Square, 151 West 34th Street focuses on the belief in Santa Claus and the importance of wishes. There is an interactive station where you can create your own letter and send it to Santa and three touch screens where you can make and send their own personal wish list.
Venturing South to Union Square, something special caught my eye; ABC Carpet & Home at 881 Broadway is best described as the Zen Palace of Christmas. Windows are simple, sensitive and calm; all centered around one solitary wish – Gratitude.
Another surprise was the creation by Mackenzie-Childs, 14 West 57th Street with a fabulously festive red, white and beautiful display. It is the place to go if you need a little Christmas, right this very minute.
The icing on the cake is Tiffany & Company, at 727 Fifth Avenue will mesmerize you with scenes from the life of a fairy-tale princess meticulously created from cut paper combined with jewels to die for. Like a view through a snowflake.
Last but certainly not least is Cartier, 653 Fifth Avenue, is wrapped up in a glistening big red bow and an always enchanting display of millions of tiny lights.
Window shopping certainly has a whole new meaning!