Tiffany and Co.
Talk about seasonal employment: There is a guy in a silver Moncler spaceman jumpsuit whose job, it appears to be, is to scrape the frost piling up in the windows of Barneys on Madison Avenue. Their theme this year is Chillin’ Out, and if some of the offerings are squarely educational—window text explains how you keep an ice castle cold, what an ice farmer does, etc.—there is also, for morons like me, a wild car chase with bejeweled penguins and Santas careering around in tiny shiny cars.
It’s time for the annual battle of the holiday windows, a fiercely secular Manhattan enterprise that has entranced me since I was a small girl sobbing over my lack of Christmas (Hanukkah sucks) and longing for reindeer and mistletoe. But enough about me—well at least for a moment! These windows belong to everybody!
At Tiffany’s, a sedated deer reposes emotionless despite the fact that a spectacular diamond necklace is draped over his torso. If the sylvan setting, he is under a bevy of outdoor chandeliers just inside a baroque turquoise gate, looks oddly familial it is because—wait—maybe that’s not snow on the ground, it’s sand! And maybe those chubby cherubim in the next window with diamond rings on their heads doubling as tiaras are really drag performers, and the whole thing is taking place at the Belvedere in Cherry Grove, Fire Island?
Bloomingdale’s features a languid outdoorsy model as well, wearing a slinky purple dress and dangling a bejeweled black bird from one limp hand. The soundtrack on the day I visit is the Pretenders’s “2,000 Miles,” which those with long memories and a fervid devotion to the original 90210 may recall was playing when Steve Sanders went to find his real mother during Christmas vacation in 1991. (Even though the lyrics quote a specific distance, Steve was traveling—by bus!—from Los Angeles to New Mexico, nowhere near 2,000 miles away.)
Over on Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel is celebrating illustrator Izak Zenou, who has been drawing cool Bendel girls for 20 years. His jaunty works are interspersed with a gaggle of handbags that serve as backdrops for mice clad in boas and tiaras, adorable critters that bear little relationship to those creatures that drove you out of your first apartment.
LORD & TAYLOR
These hungry scavengers might want to pop a fur over their fur and scurry down to Lord & Taylor, where the theme is dessert, a ferocious rejoinder to New Yorkers obsessed with their Lose It! apps and their SoulCycle sessions, and so worried that a few holiday indulgences will doom them to Fat Land for 2016. Here are spinning snowman cupcakes, dancing gingerbread men, and a cuckoo clock made of sugar. One display features a mansion set up like an advent calendar (something else my parents wouldn’t let me have) with a window popping open to reveal a guy on the ground making snow angel motions, perhaps in a vain attempt to burn off a few calories?
SAKS FIFTH AVENUE
Still more culinary enticements beckon at Saks Fifth Avenue, where the side windows feature groaning boards laden with all manner of pastries presided over by haughty pale princess mannequins who look like they’ve never taken a bite. On the Fifth Avenue side similarly pallid vixens, blissfully ignorant of current travel advisories, float on clouds above miniature renderings of the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Coliseum.
BARNEYS NEW YORK
The joyous explosion of color and sparkle at Bergdorf Goodman is a literal reflection of their sponsor, Swarovski—What? More cakes here as well!—they are rendered in bright birthstone hues and littering an inebriated birthday party. Another tableaux presents a fortune-teller spinning a wheel for a gullible if gloriously Gucci-clad client. (No crystal policeman is lurking in the background—prognostication may be semi-illegal in New York, but hey, it’s Christmas; what, Scrooge is going to press charges?)
If nobody is in a particularly sunny mood this season, for reasons that are far beyond the purview of this little blog post, then the Peanuts Christmas windows at Macy’s hit, even if inadvertently, just the right note. Though you may be using nine-tenths of your income to pay your rent, you can probably still manage a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And even those who haven’t yet availed themselves of Obamacare (people, sign up!) can afford to pay out of pocket for Lucy’s psychiatric help—most welcome in these fraught times, and still costing an inflation-proof 5 cents.