Here in New York, it's not the holiday season — officially, at least — until the city's biggest retailers unveil their annual window displays. Since Macy's inaugurated the tradition in 1883, the setups grow more dazzling with each passing year. While these glittering presentations may serve as certifiable tourist traps through the month of December, the local residents (i.e., us at Fashionista) can't help but camp out in front of select department stores with a cup (nay, carton!) of peppermint hot cocoa in hand when we have the time.
But for those who can't make it to the Big Apple to see the windows with your own two retinas, never fear! We've rounded up all of Manhattan's most notable holiday displays of the season, from Barneys to Bergdorfs and each shop in between. Enjoy (and happy holidays, obviously)!
Barneys New York
Barneys New York embellished upon the season's conventional winter themes for its all-out "Chillin' Out" installation. Onlookers at its Madison Avenue flagship can enjoy a 35-foot ice locker that also functions as a live ice-carving workshop, as well as two classic displays, "Penguin Chase" and "Winter Brilliance," the latter of which was created in partnership with renowned sculptor Dale Chihuly.
With the assistance of Swarovski's world-famous crystals, Bergdorf Goodman's windows may be sparklier than the rest of the New York City department stores — combined. Formally called "Brilliant," this display celebrates Swarovski's 120-year anniversary with five distinct windows ranging in theme from "The Crystal Ball" to "The Crown Jewels," all of which feature custom clothing looks from three of the store's designers: Johnson Hartig of Libertine, Naeem Khan and CD Greene. The glitter is so bright, in fact, we recommend that spectators wear sunglasses.
This year, Bloomingdale's tapped florist Jeff Leatham to represent how the holiday season is enjoyed through the five senses: sounds, sight, touch, smell and taste. The display features Leatham's signature floral elements and mirror-faceted sculptures, complete with oversized peppermint candies, gold-faceted reindeer, a fantasy pine forest, hugging snowmen and an enormous bed of red roses — you know, for good measure.
Inspired by an airy Parisian apartment, the displays at Henri Bendel spotlight Izak's iconic Bendel girl illustrations, which take center stage in both the windows and throughout the store. With an elegant fireplace and chandelier, the main window is built to showcase "every Bendel girl's dream," while a four-story parade of twinkling lights climbs over the building's Fifth Avenue front. Two additional windows feature trompe l'oeil frames — très chic — showcasing a number of the retailer's accessories.
Lord & Taylor
Titled "A Few of Our Favorite Things," Lord & Taylor's holiday windows highlight just that: four animated scenes of warm-'n-fuzzy holiday memories. In one, a handmade, Victorian-style gingerbread house is held up by teams of dancing gingerbread men; in another, a miniature mansion serves as an ornate Advent calendar with 24 windows counting down the days until Christmas. The real triumph here, though, is a snapshot of a traditional Parisian bakery loaded up with plates and trays of seasonal sweets.
To toast the 50th anniversary of the iconic holiday special "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Macy's enlisted the beloved Charles Schulz gang to front its windows. The six displays feature key scenes from the 1965 classic, with larger-than-life figures of Charlie, Linus, Snoopy, Lucy and more.
Saks Fifth Avenue
With a theme titled "The Winter Palace," you'd expect for Saks Fifth Avenue to go regal with this season's windows — and it did. This year, the retailer transformed six of the globe's most recognizable wonders into a wintertime spectacular. While the Empress of China is pictured alongside her "Great Wintery Wall," an accomplished Gladiatrix is rendered in battle above an "Ice-Cold Colosseum." But, alas! What would this installation be without a frozen "Great Brrrier Reef?"
Tiffany & Co.
The 2015 Tiffany & Co. windows center around the jeweler's 178-year heritage with wintry scenes set inside miniature theaters of the 1800s. In one glimpse, above, an extravagant stage plays home to a fairy tale-like outdoor scene, all based upon a Tiffany Blue color scheme. But it wouldn't be a Tiffany & Co. installation, of course, without a soul-crushingly huge jewel: One of the four windows features a yellow center stone that imitates the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond.