Christmas windows: 10 of the best from London and New York

With the busiest shopping season of the year now well underway, department stores in London and New York have unveiled some extravagant festive displays. We take a look at some of the most inventive, from ice sculptures and paper craft scenes to zodiac-themed designs…

Selfridges

151125-dc-windows-leo
Selfridges’ Christmas windows are inspired by the 12 signs of the Zodiac. This one depicts Leo. Images via Selfridges
151125-dc-windows-aries
Aries

Selfridges has opted for an astrological theme this year, with each of the 12 windows on its Oxford Street store depicting a different star sign. Metallic mannequins, starry skies and lunar backdrops create a wintry feel while avoiding anything overtly Christmassy.

Windows are illuminated with over 400 metres of neon lights, and one display includes a set of colour-changing feathers inspired by materials house The Unseen’s responsive accessories (which we wrote about here).

SFX company Artem worked with Greenwich Royal Observatory to create an impressive orbiting orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system) for another window, and creative studio Artisan has produced a nine-metre light installation inspired by astronomical clocks for the store’s facade. The brand is also hosting psychic events and ‘materials alchemy’ sessions in an astro-themed area of the store, while online customers can shop for gifts based on their star sign.

151125-dc-windows-cancer
Cancer
151125-dc-windows-aquarius
Aquarius

Liberty 

Liberty1
A bathroom-themed display for Liberty

Liberty’s Christmas windows take inspiration from Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel and Brighton’s Royal Pavilion and are packed with products, prints and some clever graphics signposting different departments.

Each window presents a different room in the house, a nod to Liberty’s homely layout (the Tudor building is made up of a series of rooms built around three light wells). A kitchen-themed window features a fridge filled with jewellery and beauty products stacked on shelves, while a bathroom-style display includes printed hand towels and bathrobes.

libertywindows
Liberty’s windows are filled with products, prints and lots of pink

The overarching theme is pink, with pastel trees, flowers, props and accessories and the design combines playful kitsch with a desire to showcase the store’s vast range of products.

Liberty is one of few shops opting for a product heavy display this year – in a talk at this year’s Offset conference, head of visual creative Liz Silvester said its board and chairman were keen to showcase as many items as possible. “You always have to remember at the heart of the concept, it has to deliver commercially … you have to get product in there,” she says.

Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows - Heather Berrisford Getty Images -1538
Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows. Images by Heather Berrisford for Getty, courtesy of Harvey Nichols

300,000 sequins, 600 mirror balls and a million glitter flakes were used to create Harvey Nichols‘ Studio 54-themed Christmas windows. Displays feature giant faces constructed from gift boxes with strings of fairy lights for hair.

Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows - Heather Berrisford Getty Images -1544
Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows. Images by Heather Berrisford for Getty, courtesy of Harvey Nichols
Harvey Nichols Christmas Windows - Heather Berrisford Getty Image - 1549
Harvey Nichols Christmas windows by Heather Berrisford Getty. Image courtesy of Harvey Nichols

An iconic 70s nightclub may seem an unusual choice of inspiration but head of visual display Janet Wardley says the design “aims to evoke the playfulness of the festive season.” The end result certainly captures the excess and sparkle associated with Christmas while aviator shades and disco balls add a retro touch.

Harrods 

Harrods§
Images via Harrods

The charming mice from Harrods‘ 2014 Christmas campaign are back – this year’s animated spot for the department store sees a troupe of the smartly dressed rodents preparing gifts, decorations and even a Christmas pudding before taking part in a spot of Irish dancing.

The theme is continued in the brand’s Christmas windows, which are dressed like theatre sets with red velvet curtains and wooden floors. Sets installed beneath floor boards at children’s eye level, meanwhile, feature dozens of tiny mice preparing for the big day.

12274292_10153749931327458_984848771343371522_n
Harrods’ Christmas windows feature miniature sets installed at children’s eye level
11224419_10153749930977458_4171149336287280610_n
CUwlLjDW4AE0MTj.jpg-large

Displays include some traditional touches – from the red and gold colour palette to Christmas trees – alongside a beautifully decorated gingerbread house and a miniature opera set complete with wooden puppets and teddy bears. Other windows have a circus theme, with trapeze artists and an orange-and-pink harlequin print.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum1
Fortnum2

Fortnum & Mason‘s woodland windows are based on illustrations by Kristjana Williams. The artwork also appears on a range of Christmas packaging for the brand, created by Williams and DesignBridge, and a limited edition range of ceramics.

It’s a brilliantly crafted display – with 300 paper owls, roosters and macaws as well as miniature cars, leaves and flowers – and a more contemporary look than previous years (Fortnum’s 2013 windows featured Christmas trees stacked with edible treats, while last year’s featured snowy scenes with gold and silver decorations).

1448317697658
1448278379782

Macy’s 

Macyís Herald Square unveils its legendary Christmas windows celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the holiday classic, ìA Charlie Brown Christmasî on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Macy's)
Macyís Herald Square Christmas windows celebrating the 50th Anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Macy’s

Macy’s has opted for childhood nostalgia over sparkle this year, with windows celebrating the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, ahead of the release of a new CGI Peanuts movie next year.

Displays were designed by the store’s national director of windows, Roya Sullivan, and recreate a series of charming scenes in which Brown ponders the meaning of Christmas and struggles to get into the festive spirit before directing the gang’s Christmas play.

Macyís Herald Square unveils its legendary Christmas windows celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the holiday classic, ìA Charlie Brown Christmasî on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Macy's)
Macy’s Christmas windows celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Macy’s

There are some clever interactive features – in one window, visitors can pay 5c to receive some advice from Brown’s friend Lucy, while another scene depicting a rehearsal for the play features interactive piano keys. The windows have proved hugely popular so far, with hundreds of shoppers posting pictures outside the store.

Macyís Herald Square unveils its legendary Christmas windows celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the holiday classic, ìA Charlie Brown Christmasî on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Macy's)
Macy’s Christmas windows celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Macy’s

Barneys

Chihuly-Resized-1024x683
Images via Barneys

Last year, Barneys collaborated with director Baz Luhrmann and costume designer Catherine Martin to create a decadent series of windows with moving sculptures and live performances.

This year’s theme is Chillin’ Out. There’s an installation by artist Dale Chihuly made up of 700 pieces of hand blown glass, which is lit using 3D mapping technology to create the effect of moonlight on ice and fiery shades of red and yellow, and a large ice sculpture by Utah-based company Ice Castles:

Ice-Castles-Resized-1024x656

The store turned its window into a walk-in freezer to create the sculpture, which will grow and change shape throughout the festive season. “From there, it was a little matter of two weeks of 24/7 care by three ‘ice farmers’ and 500 gallons of water to grown and harvest more than 2000 individual icicles. The whole structure receives a ready mist of water, allowing the shapes to morph and grow over the course of the installation,” says the store.

Okamoto-Resized-1024x660

Another freezer window will host live ice sculpting sessions every afternoon, with anonymous craftsmen in custom space suits carving blocks of ice into holiday-themed works of art. A window created with Lexus, meanwhile, features a group of crystal penguins traversing an icy race track in miniature 3D printed Lexus cars.

Lexus-Resized-1024x584

Bergdorf Goodmans

Bergdorf
Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows. Image: Ricky Zehavi

Bergdorf is known for creating extravagant window displays all year round (you can see a selection over on the store’s blog) but Christmas is when it really ramps up the bling. This year’s displays were created in partnership with Swarovski and feature seven million glittering crystals.

The project marks Swarovski’s 120th anniversary and the publication of a new monograph on its collaborations with artists and designers. There’s a party-themed display complete with crystal balloons, cakes and ice creams, some life-sized crystal lions, a statue of Neptune and a circus window with palm reading and a wheel of fortune.

Bergdorfs2
Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows. Image: Ricky Zehavi

Saks

perfomance-02
Images via Saks

In a show of Christmas bling to rival Bergdorf’s, Saks has draped its store front in over 225,000 individually programmed lights. The brand is known for its spectacular festive light shows but this year’s is perhaps its biggest yet and allegedly took more than 10,000 hours to create.

sakswindows1
SaksWin2

For windows, the store has teamed up with MasterCard to create a wintry take on the seven wonders of the world. There are miniature versions of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower, and an underwater scene depicting the Great Barrier Reef. The windows lack the immediate visual impact of Barneys’ and Bergdorf’s, but the attention to detail in the handcrafted miniature models is impressive.

Bloomingdale’s

Holiday windows at Bloomingdale’s feature some elaborate floral displays by florist Jeff Leatham. An artistic director at the Four Seasons Hotel, Leatham has worked with several luxury fashion brands including Alexander McQueen and Tiffany.

Designs offer a contemporary take on some familiar festive imagery. Windows are designed to stimulate the five senses – one features a pine-scented Christmas tree, while others house peppermint candies and a chiming reindeer sculpture.

vp3dJt6UFZqEknYbVaYUCYEC2kC4wfBSDFInNhGo88A,z26Vv7eaf4bhLqv_69rgmefcQEUDNreOlYgo5-53jrc
Bloomingdales Christmas windows designed by florist Jeff Leatham. Image: Billy Farrell/BFA
VbbB2nu_6TKg0Tw1N7MDnCiBs0UZng2Hhl60FrX4rwk,3Vzh-F5Opz8LqTt7aRsrPWTi7B9mAtJfCLmpRn1r0Uk
loomingdales Christmas windows designed by Jeff Leatham. Image: Billy Farrell/BFA

In New York in particular, the theme this year is big, bold and headline grabbing – whether it’s using thousands of lights, millions of gems and partnerships with well-known names in pop culture. London windows, on the whole, are a little more understated – though glitter, sparkle and festive colour palettes still feature heavily.

More from CR

magCulture opens up shop in Clerkenwell

After five years of selling magazines online, magCulture has opened its first shop in Clerkenwell, London. With a vast selection of indie titles as well as more established ones, it’s a real treat for both mag lovers and designers.

Are you a Nomad or a Settler?

CR editor Patrick Burgoyne recently took part in a salon event hosted by Flamingo’s Cultural Intelligence in partnership with Shelter and Smoke Creatives (the team behind Shelter’s biannual magazine ‘Here’) to probe how our relationship with the home is undergoing a dramatic shift

Lecturer Design Management

Kingston University

Design Assistant

Cultureshock Media