Yes, the leaves on the trees are just in the midst of changing, but as The Shophound Strolled past the Gap store on lower Fifth Avenue yesterday, it appears that the chain has decided to skip Autumn and Thanksgiving and head straight for Christmas. The early onset of Holiday shopping promotion has been with us for quite some time now, and there aren't strict rules, exactly, but, generally, shoppers shouldn't be seeing holiday decorations or windows until about a week or so before Thanksgiving —two at the earliest. In fact, pushing Holiday shopping before that tends to seem annoying, not to mention tasteless, and shoppers generally hate it.
Not so at the Gap, however. The giant illuminated snowflakes are now securely installed in the store's windows for at least the next two months (pictured above). The mannequins are swathed in festive knitted hats, sweaters and scarves (it was 71˚ Fahrenheit outside yesterday) and the message on the window, in case the point was not yet clear, reads: "Warmest Wishes. Give Joy, Give Love." Inside, the store's walls are festooned with more snowflakes and gift boxes with messages like "Give Gifts, Give Love" posted around the store (pictured below).
While we appreciate the extra work it takes to get a store, let alone an entire chain, ready for Holiday shopping, we also know that it is possible to get things started too early. It makes us appreciate all the more stores like Nordstrom, which has staunchly followed a holiday decorating rule of putting up Holiday decorations on the day after Thanksgiving and taking them down immediately after Christmas. Perhaps when they finally arrive in Manhattan, their example will offer some stronger influence to stores that just can't help themselves from jumping the gun.
It's pretty rare for a premier luxury store like Bergdorf Goodman to participate in something as commercial as a promotional movie tie in, but director Guillermo del Toro's "Crimson Peak" has proved to be a welcome exception. Billed as a gothic romance, the film's lavish production design has been an inspiration to the store's visual team, a group that has demonstrated time and again that no concept is too complicated or ornate for them to take on. While the folks at Bergdorf's haven't yet posted crisp photos on the store's blog 5th at 58th, they have released a behind-the-scenes video (embedded above) that shows the team creating and constructing the film's takeover of the Fifth Avenue windows in all of their macabre splendor. The movie opens this Friday, but you have all week to stop by Bergdorf's to check out another in a series of spectacular windows.
Click HERE for a slideshow of the full windows plus many production stills form the film that provided inspiration.
Barneys wasn't the only store that unveiled its windows this week. Bergdorf Goodman also lifted the curtains on its Fifth Avenue windows which, this season, are devoted to the arts —all of them.
The Bergdorf's team, led by senior director of visual presentation David Hoey, decided to devote each of the windows to a major art form including literature, architecture, theater, painting, music, dance, sculpture and film. each window was designed separately out of its own set materials such as neon lights for the "Theater" window (pictured above), fabric, soft sculpture and needlework for "Literature" and nothing but paper and old blueprints for "Architecture". As always, the windows reveal incredible workmanship upon close inspection, drawing lingering crowds and making them pretty hard for folks like us to casually photograph. As they do every year, however, Bergdorf's has nearly all of them shot in detail on its own blog 5th/58th, which is the best place to see them if you can't get there in person.
Next week: Bloomingdale's and Saks unveil just before Thanksgiving.
Holiday Windows 2014: Inspired (5th/58th-Bergdorf Goodman)
As we have mentioned before in the past few weeks, Barneys New York's experience with the Holiday Promotion season has been problematic to put it politely. This year, however, the folks in the head office seem to have gone to great lengths, and even greater expense, to reverse that unfortunate streak.
And it looks like they have succeeded by finding creative collaborators in film director Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin whose glitzy and often loopy sensibility recalls that slogan that Barneys' management has been busy trying to erase from its customers' memories: "Taste! Luxury! Humor!"
This season's slogan "Truth · Beauty · Freedom · Love" comes straight from the Bohemians of Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge. While the store may never revive Simon Doonan's wicked, comical caricature windows for the Holidays that brought such acclaim in the store's past, through collaborating with Luhrmann and Martin, they have revisited the sense of fun and surprise that has been lacking in the past few years. While we didn't get to catch "Elphresh" the dancing elf, who apparently appears on the hour to dance in his "Love" window, we caught a few moments of Celestia the Ice princess tentatively skating around her somewhat ironically titled "Freedom" corner display (in the gallery above). There is a mechanized owl for "Truth" and a mesmerizing kinetic sculpture called "The Spirits of the Snow" rightfully occupying the "Beauty" window. Acapella supergroup Pentatonix has recorded a special soundtrack for each window, and, of course, the dramatic decorative structure over the façade is more the sort of thing that stores will re-use for several years, although it is hard to imagine Barneys re-installing this again without the Luhrmann's cooperation.
And that, aside from the general pleasure in seeing the store finally get it right, is the other thing that sticks out about this whole promotion: the staggering expense it must have taken to pull it all together including the lavish one-time only production number the store staged on Monday for the unveiling. Inside the store, there is less decoration except for some custom-designed gold wallpaper wrapped around the a few columns on the main floor and holiday motifs at the escalator landing displays. The store has put most of its money on the outside for maximum visibility, which makes sense on a certain level. Barneys has spared no expense this Holiday season in part because the store is under great pressure not to botch the season again, especially after last year's regrettable shoplifting profiling scandal. The good news is that it looks like they succeeded. After the jump, have a look at a video featuring a behind the scenes look at the promotion as well as some footage from the opening extravaganza which was, apparently, not to be dampened by soggy weather.
For the past couple of years, Tiffany & Co. has been experimenting with all kinds of adhesive decals to decorate its Fifth Avenue and 57th Street flagship not just for the Holiday season, but for all sorts of other occasions like Easter or last year's The Great Gatsby retail promotion extravaganza. The results have been mixed, occasionally creating intriguing effects, but also subverting the inherent elegance and simplicity of the 1940 building's architecture. This year, however, the store has dropped the stickers and gone back to its roots, literally, with four immense firework-shaped pendants suspended from the roofline like diamond necklaces on steroids
That'll get prople's attention.
It's the sparkliest we have seen Tiffany's looking for the Holidays in years, maybe decades, and we haven't even seen at night yet to get the full effect. It even threatens to outshine the UNICEF Star suspended over the intersection that is set to be lighted for the season tonight. It is something of a challenge to the other three stores on the nearby corners, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Bergdorf Goodman, to see who can shine brightest for the next six weeks or so. This is the kind of competition we like.
THE WINDOW WATCHER:
Barneys' Baz-Dazzled Holiday Promotion To Debut On Thursday
Unveiling Dates For Lord & Taylor,
Saks & Bergdorf's
Unveiling Dates For Lord & Taylor,
Saks & Bergdorf's
Thanksgiving is kinda late-ish this year, which seems to have given New York's retailers license to unveil their Holiday windows as early as possible. Walk past Manhattan's big stores this week and see all the windows conspicuously shrouded as the visual teams furiously work to get those lights and tinsel trees in place. Barneys' highly publicized promotion with film director Baz Luhrmann is set to be unveiled tomorrow, just as the weather is finally expected to cool down to something reasonably appropriate for the Holiday season (it is currently 61˚F outside as we type this).
Barneys has a lot riding on the Luhrmann collaboration. It's Holiday promotions have hit sour notes for the past three years running which is particularly embarrassing for a store whose hilarious Holiday windows were once the talk of the town and one of the store's signature elements. This time, under Luhrmann's direction, the store will be going big and reintroducing some glitter and whimsy back into its newly super-serious minimalistic store. The Madison Avenue storefront will be covered with an elaborate façade (rendering pictured above), and, beyond just having animated displays, Luhrmann, is wife and creative partner Catherine Martin and designer Zaldy have been creating elaborate costumes for live performers who will appear in the windows and on the store's balconies throughout the season. Shoppers can look forward to ice skaters in the windows and a dancer/contortionist called Elphresh who will appear in a glittering gold romper. Weekends will bring the Queens of Night and Light appearing hourly on the store's second floor balconies in voluminous ballgowns to serenade the Madison Avenue crowds and more. We are cautiously optimistic that, after forays into celebrity, cartoons, ostentatious hip-hop-tinged special items and pretentious artsy-fartsy-ness, the folks currently running Barneys may have finally found their way back to the kind of sensibility that originally endeared New Yorkers to Barneys in the first place. If this Holiday promotion resonates with customers, maybe they will re-evaluate that "Taste! Luxury! Humor!" slogan they were so quick to dismiss.
Anyway, Barneys isn't the only store throwing itself a party tomorrow. Lord & Taylor, which is undergoing its own ongoing rejuvenation program, will be lighting up its windows on Thursday as well.
Bergdorf Goodman will be unveiling its windows, currently the city's most acclaimed, on Monday the 17th. The UNICEF Snowflake over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street will also be lit simultaneously, and 10% of the evening's proceeds will be donated to the U.S. fund for UNICEF.
Saks Fifth Avenue is conservatively holding its Holiday window reveal back until Monday November 24. With new ownership and management, the store is also looking to make a splash, so say goodbye to those illuminated dancing snowflakes on the façade that the store has presented in the past seasons. This year, Saks is promising The Rockettes themselves at the unveiling as well as a display from Fireworks by Grucci. The windows will pay tribute to the Roaring '20s and include brand new high-tech projections and lighting schemes. The launch will be live-streamed at Saks.com.
Bloomingdale's will be celebrating its windows on Monday as well with a live performance from Broadway star Idina Menzel at 5 PM on the Beacon Court of the Bloomberg Building across 59th Street along with the cast of the Off-Broadway show Illuminate.
Plan to leave work early.
Sometimes, irreverence can go just s little bit too far.
The folks at the recently re-dubbed Atruim Wooster at the corner of Bleecker Street and Broadway found out that NoHo might not be the best place to throw a snarky expletive in the middle of what should still be a cheery holiday display. Originally, the store's plate glass window held a word in between 'Happy' and 'Holidays' that normally gets excised from movies not rated R, and one that we generally don't use on our blog (click HERE for the original image). Either too many complaints poured in, or the management may have realized that what seemed ironic in its conception looked somewhat more mean-spirited in its execution. At any rate, the store has replaced the offending word with a space for the adjective of your choice, though we must note that for anyone who has spent many a holiday season working in retail, the original sentiment seems perfectly appropriate.
There are some things you can just rely on, and that is that the Holiday Windows on Bergdorf Goodman's Fifth Avenue storefront will be a lavish fantasy. This year the store stayed on form with five elaborate tableaux with theme, "Holidays On Ice". Of course, this makes us think of a long defunct figure skating show, but the conceit this year is actually representing frozen versions of holidays form the rest of the year, so we have frosty representations of Arbor Day, the Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and April Fool’s Day (pictured above). No, the image is not upside down, but the window is, because —April Fools! Smaller windows represent ever more holidays, and the best way to see them if you can't get down to the store is to check out Bergdorf's own blog where photographer Ricky Zehavi has dutifully documented them with more skill than we can —although we are planning to stop by after sunset soon to get some detail shots of our own. The flipped perspective is one of the store's Holiday window signatures, and BG fans will recognize other familiar elements. Our only criticism, and this is a mild one, is that there are perhaps too many of these recognizable touches in the windows, and the general aesthetic may run the risk of becoming a little bit too familiar over the years. This is a small quibble, however, Bergdorf's is still comfortably at the top of our Holiday Window list with little sign of slipping anytime soon.
Holiday Windows 2013: Holidays on Ice (5th at 58th/Bergdorf Goodman)
This week is an extravaganza of Holiday Window unveilings around the city with ever more fanfare for each marketing opportunity. This season, Barneys has taken a different approach after a couple seasons of disappointing post-Simon Doonan efforts. This time, the store has teamed up with French visual artist Joanie Lemercier to present four interactive intallations featuring light shows, high-tech 3D imagery and a futuristic Santa and Mrs. Clause portrayed by performers from the improv group Upright Citizens Brigade. Despite being embattled in so many other ways this Holiday Season, it looks like the store has finally found a way to distinguish itself both from other store's displays and it's own heritage of irreverent, comical Holiday windows. Because of their kinetic nature, Barneys smartly debuted the windows virtually via Instagram videos which you can see embedded below and after the jump.
First up, REFLECTIONS, an ever changhing light show based on a broken-off fragment of the city.
It made a big splash several years ago as a program collecting major brands like Apple, Gap, Giorgio Armani and Converse to create special products whose proceeds benefited The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It's a worthy cause, to be sure, and millions of dollars have been raised, but eventually the program lost its luster, and while Apple and other companies still participate, Gap, Armani and some of the other more glittery names seem to have drifted away. Other things have captured the public's attention in the meantime, but (RED) is about to get a jolt of publicity that will hopefully recharge its mission.
Next month, Sir Jonathan Paul Ive, KBE, better known as Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple Inc., Marc Andrew Newson CBE, the renowned industrial designer and Paul David Hewson more popularly known as U2 frontman Bono have organized Jony and Marc's (RED) Auction, a sale of unique design objects at Sotheby's in Rockefeller Center that follows up on one held in 2008 that launched the charity program and raised over $40 million, one of the largest charity events in history. One-off items range from a rare, authentic Soviet "Zvezda" Cosmonaut space suit to one-of-a-kind 18K gold Apple Earpods to a white and red Steinway baby grand piano to a a custom Leica rangefinder camera designed by Ive and Newson, just to name a few. The items will go on official display at Sotheby's on November 18th until the auction on the 23rd —just in time for Holiday shopping— but right now through November 11th, highlights of the collection will be on display in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman's men's store, including the spacesuit, an Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni “Snoopy” lamp customized by the celebrated designers, a Star Wars storm trooper helmet signed by George Lucas that should ultimately make a wealthy fanboy very happy and other prized pieces. You can see images of the windows at Bergdorf's 5th/58th Blog, or just go see them for yourself, and expect to hear more about the event in the coming weeks.