There are lots of little ways to get in the festive spirit —maybe you get in the spirit of the season by decorating your Christmas tree, or practicing your carols. But perhaps my favourite of all is going in to the city and seeing all the beautifully decorated Christmas windows.
So whether you’re all about the holiday magic or just here for the sparkly shoes, each of these well-designed windows will have a little something for you.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Once Upon a Holiday” window display, at it’s Fifth Avenue flagship, no doubt has its fellow department stores seeing green. Behind the landmark shop’s 14 holiday displays are different scenes from Snow White and The Seven Dwarves (celebrating its 80th anniversary this year), including one still of the snarling Wicked Queen and her poisonous apple, and another, of the heroine dancing along with woodland creatures. A magical bonus? Every window display is animated—a first in the store’s 94-year history (you can even see the dwarves in action).
Over at the 49th and 50th street windows, scope out the work of four designers, including Alberta Ferretti and Monique Lhuillier, who have dreamed up their own versions of the princess’s fairytale gown—if she lived in the 21st-century, that is.
This year’s look? According to Parisian department store Printemps, it’s magic. Unveiled November 7 at the store’s flagship on Boulevard Haussmann, its 11 windows portray six fanciful tableaus, dubbed “Christmas, the Extraordinary Voyage of Gifts,” that chart the journeys of Jules and Violette, its kid explorers. In each window, the two hop around the world with one of the shop’s six partner brands, like MCM or Citroën. Want to see Jules and Violette sitting atop a miniature replica of the store itself? Check out the Fendi window—you’ll see Jules, Fendi box in hand, propped up on the the dome.
David Jones, Sydney, Australia
In a collaboration with Sydney-based studio Macgyver Models, a team of 10 hand-picked artisans handcrafted the display during a 10-week period, resulting in a gingerbread-themed, lolly-based exhibit that appeals to everybody’s taste for the sweeter things in life. Telling the story of gingerbread folk living in a magic town, the Willy Wonka-esque tale is shown through the likes of specially-made marble lollies and a scenic candy cave, which took six weeks to construct.
Liberty London, London, United Kingdom
Christmas morning often gets all the attention—but this year’s display at Liberty London, over on Regent Street, pays homage to the charms of the less anticipated (but equally delightful) Christmas Eve. Designers, who drew inspiration from Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and the city of London itself, decked out windows with miniature replicas of Tudor-style buildings, including Liberty (all with “snow-dusted” rooftops) and have framed the scene with hanging foliage. But it’s not all quaint—designer handbags and shoes hang from hooks in the windows, giving us plenty to wish for this Christmas.
Bloomingdale’s, New York, NY
Calling your holiday windows “the greatest” might be a stretch for most retailers—but not if you happen to be the legendary outfitter Bloomingdale’s. Over at 59th and Lexington, the department store has partnered with Swarovski and 20th Century Fox, which is releasing its latest film, The Greatest Showman, on December 20, to craft its seasonal displays this year. Extravagant panoramas are based on scenes in the movie, which recounts the story of circus visionary P.T. Barney; each display is paired with the song that inspired it (the specific tune is also playing when you approach the window). In the “Greatest Show,” window, the movie-opening song, Barnum is shown in the ring introducing his oddities, while in “This is Me,” it’s a celebration of oddities, with the bearded lady at the centre. As if optical illusions and circus scenes weren’t enough, the whimsical windows are illuminated by more than 7.6 million Swarovski crystals—not too shabby.
Brown Thomas, Dublin, Ireland
If you’re angling to see a high-end winter wonderland, then consider hightailing it to Dublin, where Brown Thomas’s windows have us pining for presents (and even some seriously eighties hairstyles, which they somehow manage to make cool). The shop’s windows, which span the entire length of the 159-year-old building, are a total fantasy landscape, dotted with more than 7,000 sparkly baubles and plenty of covetable merchandise.
Harvey Nichols, London, United Kingdom
Harvey Nichols, the celebrated London department store, is trying to keep it light this year—literally. Unveiled November 6, the clothier’s colourful, graphic windows brighten up dark winter nights with an assortment of LED lights, rotating mirror balls, and holographs (and some equally colourful accessories, of course). Our only recommendation? Those lights are dazzling, so you might want to buy a pair of stylish shades indoors before you scope it out.
Special Mention to Cartier for wrapping their stores up like a big gift.
While technically not just a window (and the windows are beautifully while we are at it), but those giant bows get bonus points just for being damn cool!