With Christmas shopping season well underway, department stores on both sides of the Atlantic have transformed their windows with elaborate festive displays: Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges’ feature enchanted forests and fairy tale scenes, while Barneys’ house live dance performances and intricate mechanical sculptures. Here’s a look at the best we’ve seen so far from London, Paris & New York…
The theme for Harrods beautifully dressed windows is ‘The Land of Make Believe’ – described by the store as “a contemporary take on tradition, set against a Scandinavian landscape of silver birch trees, ice-blue skies and snow drifts.”
Each window features a bespoke one-off item – from a spinning ballerina in a Swarovski crystal gown to a patchwork rocking horse by furniture brand Squint – alongside toys, miniature creatures and strings of fairy lights. White mice in waistcoats and dresses also provide a nod to the brand’s stop-motion Christmas ad, which features a troupe of the tiny animals acting as Santa’s helpers:
Images via Harrods
Selfridges festive display is this year inspired by the idea of storytelling: each window on its Oxford Street store depicts a different fairytale or children’s fable “with a Selfridges twist”. There’s a golden goose, Hansel and Gretel outside a gingerbread house, a “not so ugly duckling” in a feathered dress and a trio of Rapunzels with dip-dyed pink hair. Each scene is lavishly decorated, and the store has also installed a two-tonne neon sign above the canopy overhanging its main entrance:
Images via Selfridges
Harvey Nichols has also adopted an enchanted forest theme this year – its windows feature hand-painted trees with metallic trunks and branches adorned with accessories, while mannequins wear metallic make-up and theatrical masks and head dresses.
Harvey Nichols says the windows took a year to plan and 600 hours to make. Janet Wardley, head of display at Harvey Nichols, says they are designed to create the illusion of standing on the edge of a forest, “which will entice you to look deeper into the woods.”
Images via Harvey Nichols
The star of this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad, Monty the Penguin, is also the main attraction in its festive windows. Displays at the store’s flagship branch on Oxford Street feature a group of penguins wrapped in knitwear, a family of penguins baking and another doing the laundry – creating charming scenes out of even the most mundane household objects.
New York department store Barneys’ holiday windows were this year designed by film director Baz Lurhmann and production and costume designer Catherine Martin. The pair, whose previous productions include The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet, have used lashings of gold, bling and sparkle to create theatrical scenes inspired by a particular word, from truth to love and freedom.
Each window features either live performances or moving sculptures – there’s an eight-foot mechanical steampunk owl by sculptor Chris Cole; handmade kinetic sculptures by artist Anthony Howe, which look like giant golden snowflakes, a lonely princess skating in an ice cave and another enchanted forest-themed window with 9 foot high chrome mushrooms, a giant jewelled beatbox and a dancing elf in a golden suit. The windows apparently took a team of 100 around 10 months to plan and assemble.
Also in New York, Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows pay homage to the arts: each represents a different art form, from painting to sculpture and fim, and was created using a different material or technique. Theatre, for example, features neon lights, while a literature window is made entirely from needlework. Windows were designed by David Hoey and assembled by over 100 artists and craftspeople.
Painting, photographed by Ricky Zehavi for Bergdorf Goodman
Music (left) and theatre, photographed by Ricky Zehavi for Bergdorf Goodman
Tiffany & Co
The windows of Tiffany‘s flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue feature a series of papercut scenes inspired by its 2014 holiday ad (watch it here). Sets depict figures skating through Central Park, strolling through Times Square and travelling past the city’s skyscrapers in a yellow cab, complete with flashes of the brand’s signature blue and tiny Tiffany’s gift boxes.
Richard Moore, VP of creative visual merchandising at Tiffany & Co says the windows are designed to capture the style and energy of New York in the 1950s. A lighting display is also taking place outside the shop at 4.00pm each day, which pays homage to a firework display held for Tiffany Diamond in 1939.
Images courtesy of Ricky Zehavi for Tiffany & Co.
Image courtesy of Ricky Zehavi for Tiffany & Co.
Printemps & Burberry
Displays feature puppets dressed in Burberry clothing alongside models of landmarks from both cities, including the Eiffel Tower, the Gherkin, the London Eye and Printemps. There are also snowy landscapes, moving train sets and trees decorated with miniature Burberry charms.
Images via Printemps