Style Scout: Magic on 5th Avenue

Posted by Sharon Hayslip on

Hello design lovers!


So here we go again. Another year down and we’re finally to my favorite holiday: CHRISTMAS! Naturally, I had to go have a look at the windows on 5th ave and see what the high fashion shopping world had to offer us in the realm of displays. I called my friend, Sarah, hopped on the subway and got off in midtown.


As fate would have it, I had unknowingly decided to photograph the windows the same night as the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting. “Oh boy, that means we get photos from that, too, right?!” Wrong. The streets were completely barricaded, so foot traffic was limited to the sidewalks, and in order to cross the street, one had to get into the back of a line of about 80 people and wait for the crossing guard to stop traffic and allow a few people to cross at a time. Getting anywhere in midtown is a bit of a mission as it is (at least mentally, for me), but this made it an absolute nightmare.


But Sarah and I tackled it with a good attitude. We walked a few blocks in the opposite direction to avoid the crowds, and ultimately came across our first display.  It was the storefront for MacKenzie-Childs.








Unfortunately, I had to peek through the scaffolding that surrounded the building to catch a glimpse of their display. They had a Swan Lake-inspired theme, and the lampshade head figures slowly rotated. The landscape of the second picture seems a little Tim Burton-esque with those checkered trees. I was feeling pretty optimistic about the night.


I snapped my shots and looked across the street to where the Bergdorf Goodman jewelry displays were. I had my finger on the shutter of my camera and was ready to dart across the street and elbow my way to the front of the inevitable crowd of tourists, but all I saw was a giant wall that said “under construction.” Oh dear… That can’t be a good sign. Sarah and I walked toward Fifth Avenue and peered across the street to where Bergdorf’s clothing windows are. Thankfully, we saw spectators and light radiating from the building, so we decided we would save those displays for last.


Usually, every building on 5th Ave acts as though they are the jealous neighbors of those around them. They’ll try to out-do each other with their lights and displays and tourists are ooh-ing and ah-ing over animatronic mannequins and the clever story lines that the designers of these displays have carefully brainstormed for probably months in advance. However, this year it seemed as though 5th Ave was mourning the loss of several stores that used to be a part of the retail family. The two that I’m aware of are FAO Schwarz and the giant Forever 21 (less historic, of course). No one had replaced these stores yet, so the buildings remained dark and empty among the lights of Cartier, Bulgari, and Tiffany & Co.


Speaking of Tiffany & Co., they had their usual simplistic approach with bursts of light above their display windows.




A closer look at their displays revealed tiny winter scenes. The first featured a reindeer with a diamond bracelet draped over his back.




Being the girl that I am, I squealed with delight when the lights changed colors and it looked like our reindeer friend was now in a ballroom.






The second display featured a simple, Tiffany blue Christmas tree adorned with diamond earrings and a gigantic freaking rock at the base of it. Normally, I would joke and say “haha I should show this to the boyfriend hint hint hint,” but even I thought the size was over the top for jokes.






What I liked the most about this display, however, were the little statues on either side. The one to the left was a sweet little cherub wearing a mask.




The one to the right was the bust of a woman, dusted with snowflakes.



Across from Tiffany is Harry Winston. I’m fairly certain they do this display of lights every single year, so I’m not going to judge them for going with a classic look.



And speaking of classic, I believe this is what Cartier does every year as well, but the fact that their neighbor, FAO Schwarz, is gone, it made this display look a bit lonely…



Okay, so now let’s talk about Ralph Lauren and their commentary on Starbucks. “But Tiger, why does that have to be Starbucks?” you might ask. Because it’s green and white, and with the “red cup controversy” that happened this winter, I would LOVE for a large corporation like Ralph Lauren to poke some fun at the matter, and mostly because dammit I said so and I like being right.



Mostly, I’m wondering WHO is the barista here?? These two certainly aren’t. They look far too fabulous. To quote one of my favorite episodes of Portlandia, “What are hats?”



And this woman might not know where she is.



She’s probably upset that her hat is significantly less stylish than her girlfriends’.


But now, let’s get feminist and question the reasoning behind why the male mannequins do not have heads but the women do. What are we saying here, Ralph Lauren? Are we making a commentary that women are the smart ones and men are the brainless drones? Or is it the opposite? Is a woman’s facial beauty more important than men’s, and that’s why we need their faces on a mannequin—so female shoppers look at these mannequins and say, “golly! If I buy that, I’ll be as beautiful as that size 00 bod with the painted face!” whereas men simply don’t give a f***? I need to know these things, Ralph Lauren!!!







Seriously, both their men’s displays have no heads, but both the women’s displays do:




Ralph Lauren got me like:




I see your mind games.


But I have to say, other than the Bergdorf windows, I really loved Valentino’s display, which wasn’t in the window—it was on it!




And it was programmed like a singalong, so it would start out dark, and with each new note, the word underneath would light up!


The windows I’ve highlighted here (don’t worry, I’m about to show you Bergdorf’s) were the best of those on 5th Ave. I have to say, I was a bit underwhelmed with the efforts made this year. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t able to start from 50th street like I normally would (Bergdorf Goodman is at the very top of the shops on 59th), so I didn’t get to see everything. But I felt like the larger stores I haven’t shown you could have made more of an effort than just throwing up a couple wreaths and some ornaments (5th Ave designers, if you’re reading this, I don’t mean to offend. But come on.). Sarah and I almost wondered if there was a deficit this year.


So anyway, here’s what Bergdorf Goodman did.


Here’s a silver lady with a disco ball lion head.




This wasn’t what I was used to from Bergdorf, so I was about to be outraged. Where were the theatrics?! The animatronics!! Why doesn’t it look like it’s about to jump out at me?!

But as my boyfriend’s family says, “look with your eyes open, and your mouth shut.” I took a few more steps and immediately felt silly for underestimating the glory of Bergdorf.




As it turns out, this year, BG teamed up with Swarovski and encrusted every single display with Swarovski crystals. I loved this lady who is in way too fancy of clothing to be excavating geodes. Also, who was so kind as to bring her a chandelier with which she has been able to wire inside her cave? Upon further investigation, it appears to be that she lives down here. So that’s a thing. Check out her chest of drawers behind her!




And here’s the Swarovski-encrusted Queen Elizabeth, complete with guards, lions, and her little dog, too!



Look at the dog! Chinese crested, I guess?



This next window isn’t as grand. It was one of the little “in betweeners,” but LOOK AT THE SHINY LOUBOUTIN!!



Obviously, if I still had my purple hair, I would have been invited. This part is so lit, they needed THREE chandeliers. My birthday is soon. I expect nothing less than this (which means, we’ll probably end up going to Panna II, the far less expensive, but equally as shiny version of this):



For some reason, that brat with the blue hair is NOT appreciating the party her other colorful friends have thrown for her… WTF.



Here’s another “mini window.” This one features a Swarovski alligator trying to sing with a purse in his/her mouth…so…that’s a thing.




Okay, but this next one is glorious. Check out Poseidon and his lady friend, Amphitrite, and all their pets!



Grumpy sea turtle:



And the lobster who got the raw end of the deal as Amphitrite’s seat:



And then the crystal madness finally goes over the top in this one:



Please, take me to where monkeys can read my fortune. 


Look at that mystical monkey!!!





And also, check out this signage:



 While I think Poseidon was my favorite window, this grand finale was pretty great. They definitely pulled out all the stops for this one!


So anyway, Sarah and I decided to remain in the spirit of our high society evening by walking through the red carpet event for A Very Murray Christmas (no, we didn’t see Bill, but we saw Jason Schwartzman who was my childhood crush for a little while—don’t know why, still don’t know why, let’s just leave that alone). Then, we stopped in to The Wayfarer for some schmancy $16 cocktails and some girl-talk. All in all, December 3rd was a pretty good night in NYC!


Okay, that’s all I’ve got!


Happy Christmas and Merry Hanukkah, let’s go drink eggnog!


- Tiger Darrow, Style Scout 


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