Skip to main content

Browse the Holiday Windows at Bergdorf's, Bendel's, Barneys' and More

No one does holiday windows like the NYC department stores. In most cases teams of 30-100 people start planning and conceptualizing the windows a full year in advance.

One of my earliest and best holiday memories is looking at The Nutcracker themed windows at Marshall Field's (sniff, RIP) in

Saks Fifth Avenue

Theme: "Snowflake Spectacular." Saks has prime real estate right across from the Rockefeller Center tree. This year the windows are all about snow, a Saks specialty. From windows full of snow globes to a video featuring chalk stop-motion animation by an Australian artist duo, the white stuff is the star of the show. There's even an interactive window, because as Harry Cunningham, SVP of Visual at Saks, told us, "People love surprise and interactivity--people love to see themselves." (Which is why the internet is thriving.)

How: The Saks team had to test out the resilience of snow globes because a snow globe gets maybe 100 "turn-overs" in its life, but Saks anticipated that their snow globes would get thousands in six weeks (they sit on wall that "comes to life" and flips them.)

Fun fact: They purchased many of the snowglobes from eBay. One was made in their studio out of an old Mason jar. There are also 14 snow globes in the window that represent the 14 cities where Saks does business.

Bergdorf Goodman:

Theme: "BG Follies of 2012." One of two stores which went for a Jazz Age theme (Henri Bendel is the other one), Bergdorf recreated a super-luxe version of "the sumptuous atmosphere of the Ziegfeld Follies, the verve of Busby Berkeley’s Hollywood musicals, and the bounce of Vaudeville revues," according to a release.

How: This being Bergdorf, the fashion is to die for. Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen and many other designers "dressed" the various mannequins.

Fun facts: In the last window, there's a starburst mirror that is made from 1,000 individual beveled mirrors. The matching mirrored gowns were commissioned specially for the window from Naeem Khan.

Barneys New York

Theme: "Electric Holiday." The


Theme: "The Magic of Christmas." The windows celebrate holiday traditions "through the ages." For the third year in a row, they are also highlighting Macy's involvement with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. While the windows have a traditional look, they're pretty high-tech, featuring interactive elements (like being able to "swipe" and turn pages.) The Nutcracker, Miracle on 34th Street, and iconic NYC scenes are presented in the windows.

How: Designer Paul Olczewski played with a lot of cool technology for the windows. There's a giant flip book (think iPhone) featuring 150 years of fashion. You can give a mannequin 70s hair, a Victorian corset and a60s mini-skirt it that's how you roll.

Fun facts: Macy's was the first department store in NYC to ever do holiday windows, and the first to have an in-store Santa, in 1862. The music is scored by a live Broadway orchestra, according to Olczewski.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Lord & Taylor

Theme: "Wish for Tradition." This is the 75th anniversary of Lord & Taylor's holiday windows, and they wanted them to be a "gift to NYC." The windows start by depicting Santa in his workshop on a day off. The windows progress to a charming tableaux featuring a German ski town to Central Park Zoo at twilight.

How: Roe Palermo, the DVP of Visual Merchandising, started planning the windows shortly after the holidays last year. L&T is the only department store in NYC whose windows are on hydraulics, allowing the team to build the windows on premises. (Many stores build their windows off-site.) Most of the figures in the windows are dressed in tiny versions of outfits you can actually buy at Lord & Taylor.

Fun fact: Lord & Taylor was the first department store to do animated holiday windows in NYC. In the German town windows, there are 325 tiny nutcrackers. (It certainly looks like at least that many.) And that fake snow? The secret is kosher salt--hundreds of pounds of it--and glitter, all painstakingly mixed for a realistic snowy look.

Henri Bendel

Theme: "Deco the Halls." The Jazz Age and Roaring '20s, a huge theme in fashion for fall/winter (not to mention the imminent release of


Theme: "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away." The windows are directly influenced by a new James Cameron film of the same name, which hits theaters December 21. Like many of the stores, these windows are interactive--you can have your mug appear as one of the characters in the windows.

How: John Klimkowski, Bloomingdale's OVP/Creative Director of Visual Merchandising, told us that since the spring, the Paramount, Bloomingdale's, and Cirque teams had to coordinate weekly calls to conceptualize and bring the project to life.

Fun facts: The movie on which the windows is based is in 3D, and this was the biggest challenge in bringing the windows to life. But there's an app you can download to get a 3D experience, including audio and "vibrations." Intriguing!

Click through to see more windows from all of these stores...Happy Holidays!