The top Christmas window displays in Manhattan can be found at Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylor, Barneys, and Bergdorf Goodman. While many of the windows this year are festive and creative, Macy’s Herald Square has the best display by far.
The stories accompanying the Macy’s window displays have been steadily declining for the past few years, lacking the magic, depth, intrigue, and cohesiveness that I remembered from years past. But this year’s story is both well written and inspirational. The overriding message is the importance of believing against all odds, which is accentuated by an enormous display of lights forming the word “Believe” on the side of the building. The visual displays are also phenomenal. Each window features moving figurines telling the story, and, the backgrounds and sets change as the story progresses. At each window, a voice over of the story is read aloud via loud speakers for younger children who don’t know how to read the words yet. Macy’s, located at 6th Avenue and 34th Street, has the best story, the best message, and the best display of any of the windows this year.
Saks Fifth Avenue, located on 5th Avenue and 50th Street, has the least impressive windows this year. While Macy’s chose to encourage it’s viewers to believe against all odds, Saks took the opposite approach and chose the theme of bursting a bubble. Their displays feature mannequins in fancy dresses in the midst of plastic bubbles and one window had a sign reading “Burst a Bubble.” Bursting a bubble usually refers to destroying a fantasy. While Macy’s chose to inspire it’s audience to believe against all odds, the title of Saks theme refers to destroying a fantasy. This message could not be less inspiring, and the mannequins covered in bubbles lacks any semblance of holiday magic.
Bloomingdales, located on Lexington and 59th Street, features TVs with moving images of snow falling on houses, woods, Christmas trees, and falling through a stormy sky. In the background of one window is a sign reading “Happy, Merry, Peace, Love.” This display is more Christmasy than most of the others, but the TV screens are far less fun to watch than the moving puppets telling a story. While the windows certainly get you in the mood for the holidays, I have to give them a thumbs down for creativity.
Lord and Taylor, located at 5th Avenue and 39th Street, was far more creative. The store wrote out what people from all over the country said they liked most about Christmas and where in the country each person was from. The windows had moving displays bringing to life each person’s favorite thing about Christmas. This was my second favorite set of windows because it featured an interesting visual display, a clear theme, and plenty of holiday spirit.
Barneys, located on Madison Avenue and 61st Street, features innovators/revolutionaries in the food industry. The windows display replicas of influential chefs such as Julia Child (seen floating in a pot), Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, and many more. A sign in one of the windows reads “Have A Foodie Holiday.” There is also a window with an expresso theme, featuring an expresso machine and hundreds of tiny expresso cups. For a store that carries a lot of very small sizes, encouraging excessive eating seems like the wrong message to bring the store business.
And finally Bergdorf Goodman, located on 5th Avenue and 58th Street, focuses on travel/exploration. The windows showcase trains, planes, cars, buggies, telescopes, hot air balloons, maps, etc. While this theme is more creative and inspirational than Barneys, it seems to have very little to do with the holidays.
It’s wonderful to be in New York around the holidays. The light posts are wrapped in Christmas lights, windows glow with candles and menorahs, crowds gather in Rockefeller Center to watch the ice skaters and gaze up at the tree, but the Christmas windows have a uniquely New York City feeling to them. I suggest that you visit them all, but if you don’t have the time, start with Macy’s and Lord and Taylor.