What’s Going On December 21st?
Christmas is, obviously, one of the most commercial times of the year; however, just because something is commercial doesn’t mean that it cannot be beautiful, an idea which I think some of the wonderfully imaginative shop window displays around the world show! Obviously, I haven’t actually seen all of these; I would do if I could, but unfortunately Santa hasn’t yet bought me my private jet. At least I have the internet at my service, which is kind of the next best thing…isn’t it?
First up is one of the many confectionery shops in Bruges, Belgium, featuring a scene between laughing snowman. What makes this window so special? It is made entirely from chocolate. Now, I have been to Bruges, and they like their chocolate; rightly so, it’s delicious. Many of the shops have small sculptures built from chocolate on display throughout the year, but this establishment has clearly gone all out for Christmas; I don’t think I could have resisted taking a bite out if I had been charged with creating this masterpiece!
Die Bijenkorf, a department store in Amsterdam, bought a hint of drama and darkness to their Christmas window display, which was entitled Bring On The Night. Mysterious caves turn out to be caverns of treasure, with shoes trapped in bird cages and handbags dangling from the outstretched antlers of a reindeer.
I am truly in love with this series, which moves away from the usual Christmassy themes and instead creates something much more interesting; it makes me want to go to Amsterdam and have a look around the store!
In New York, meanwhile, Saks on Fifth Avenue have really pushed the boat out with a 3D light show which plays across the building each night for the whole of the city to enjoy. It features the Saks Yeti, who, it is said, lives on the roof of the store and makes snow.
The windows themselves tell of how the Yeti came to be the leading snowflake artiste in the Big Apple, beginning with his humble beginnings as an under-appreciated snow maker in Siberia, and chronicling his journey across the ocean. Here he is on the subway;
There is even an interactive window, and if you visit the Saks website before your visit, you can discover your yeti name and create your own snowflake, which can be pinged from your mobile to the screen for all to see. I love everything about the Saks Christmas display; it’s fun, it’s modern, and it has a bit of that old-fashioned festive magic. I wish I could see it for real, but I suppose I shall have to settle for the youtube clip;
In fact, it seems as though New York is the place to be this Christmas, with thousands of beautiful window displays deserving of your attention. Jay-Z helped design the windows for Barney’s, who always put a modern, often humorous twist on their Christmas decorations. Again, the display is interactive, allowing audiences to appear in a sleigh featured in one of the windows, and LED lights and projections make this into one of the most ambitious and complex projects yet.
Macy’s always put on one of the best Christmas spreads, and this year is no different. As always, one set of windows depict scenes from the classic film Miracle on 34th Street, whilst the other features a series entitled Dream…and Believe, which again consists of LED lights telling a festive tale.
Another of my very favourites this year is the Hirschfeld Spectacular at Henri Bendel, which pays homage to the cartoonist at the New York Times by featuring a scene inspired by and including his drawings. We are given a glimpse into a glamorous New York dinner party, featuring such stars as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Woody Allen and Sarah Jessica Parker. I love the good-natured satirical bite to this window.
Across the ocean stands Paris’ Printemps, perhaps one of the most beautiful department stores in the world, and their Christmas window display this year definitely lives up to that reputation. Designed with the help of Prada, each window in the store’s illuminated façade tells a classically festive fairy tale through the medium of an animated tableau, starring the Prada bear.
Entitled A Joyful Obsession, the display was honoured with its own celebrity unveiling in November, when Gwyneth Paltrow revealed the scene to a great fanfare of media attention. Each individual bear wears a miniature outfit designed by Prada, which is incredibly creative; a little saccharine, yes, but that’s Christmas for you.
A little further away, in Tokyo, department store Isetan draws on the images of Hieronymus Bosch to create this beautiful exploration of the relationship between man and nature, entitled “Finding Wonder Christmas.”
This Alice-in-Wonderland-esque piece of visionary genius was designed by Finnish artist Klaus Happaniemi, and honestly made me feel happy. The display is joyful and magical without resorting to schmaltzy Christmas sentiment. It is a work of art. Here, a rainstorm monster showers the beautiful garden, whilst our main character (the little orange creature on the left) shields himself with an umbrella.
There is really not much more to say about this, except that I like it.
Although I can’t travel to all these beautiful places this Christmas, there are a few displays a bit closer to home in London that I can enjoy! World-famous department store, Harrods, has created a sparkling spectacle inspired by the classic British steam train; the Harrods Christmas Express had rolled into town, bringing with it carriages heaped high with seasonal magic and creativity.
Each of the department store’s windows represents a different scene happening in a train compartment; have a look at the video, the entire set-up oozes class.
Oversized Christmas gifts are the recurring theme in Selfridges’ visual masterpiece, in which each window is focused around a different object available inside, including a Charlotte Olympia shoe, a bottle of champagne, a pair of Beats headphones and a play-doh pot, all surrounded by miniature penguins in tuxedos, or tiny abseiling Santa’s.
I love this window, which pays homage to Rodnik Band’s collaboration with Peanuts (see the dresses on the left and right); no doubt that Selfridges is the place to go if you want a bit of Snoopy this year!
Selfridges’ decorated façade is a shrine to the high profile commodity, yes, but a whimsical one; as Mr Selfridge said a century ago, “the whole art of merchandising consists of appealing to the imagination. Once the imagination is moved, the hand goes naturally to the pocket.” I think it is safe to say that the imagination has been moved!
Despite myself, I actually had so much fun researching this post; even though I am not a big fan of Christmas, looking at all of these beautiful, thoughtful creations has really cheered me up, and I would love to see more! Have you seen any of these window displays? Are there any decorations near you which are even better than these? I’d love to know how they’re doing Christmas in your city!
Happy December 21st!