bergdorf goodman holiday windows 2015 swarovski crystals absinthe colour christopher occhicone

Christmas windows | iconic department stores | Festive season in the frame

Sexy and glamorous. Red carpet ready. Did someone say 'rescue fantasy'?

My imagination is bigger than yours! In department store windows around the world, every picture tells a different Christmas story…

Wizard of Oz creator L Frank Baum first imagined his tiny, fantastic worlds in the Christmas windows of department stores. Generations later, they continue to enchant. Michael Stahl and Susan Skelly press noses against the glass.

galeries Lafayette paris france christmas 2015 frozen

Paris’s Galeries Lafayette has opted for an in-store intergalactic theme for 2015 festivities



Galeries Lafayette, established in 1895, is today cited as Paris’ second most popular tourist destination (after a certain, temporary tower). The store’s Christmas dioramas typically go beyond the windows, with the Boulevard Haussmann storefront clad in special lighting and theatrical props extending onto the footpaths. Galeries Lafayette is also celebrated for its marionettes, dozens being hand-made each year for the animated telling of children’s stories. This year’s Christmas is space-themed – with a dazzling cosmic Christmas tree, intergalactic toys, design objects, signature decorations, and a robot family.

Galeries Lafayette, 40 Boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9ème.

Related article: Galeries Lafayette: shoppers’ paradise

Bon marche paris christmas window 2015

Oh so chic, the Bon Marche windows aglow with the spirit of Christmas


Like its younger Parisian counterparts, the 163-year-old boutique department store on the left bank disrupts Baron Haussmann’s architectural order by spilling its displays subtly onto the footpaths and hanging shimmering lights from its awnings. Glamour and fantasy are hallmarks, and LBM reliably delights with intricate model making and whimsical animations; indeed, it was among the first department stores in the world to do so, with pioneering automation firm Maison Roullet-Descamps designing the first animated window for the store in 1909. Today it sets a benchmark in refinement “à la française” in fashion, furniture and even food. Every year in the run-up to Christmas, the windows of this quintessential Rive Gauche store are adorned with beautiful decorations which never fail to delight.

Le Bon Marché, 24 rue de Sèvres, 7ème


 Printemps Paris Christmas 2015 main

Printemps in Paris has two reasons to celebrate: Christmas and the store’s 150th anniversary


In recent years, the 1865-founded store has teamed with fashion labels to produce special Christmas displays: in 2012, Dior dressed 74 porcelain dolls in many of its classic designs, in lavish dioramas of Parisian landmarks; and in 2013 it was Prada’s turn to dress the store’s 11 windows in teddy bears. Philippe Découflé is the creative brain behind the decoration of the store fronts, the famed Boulevard Haussmann shop windows as well as the main event of the Christmas festivities. For the 2015 festive season, Philippe Découflé dresses nine windows in association with the Printemps teams. To create even more magic, two windows provide an interactive experience for passers-by. The Printemps Fairy, back to celebrate the store’s 150th birthday, will flit through these magical worlds.

Printemps, 64 Boulevard Haussmann, Paris 9ème.


Harvey Nichols London Studio 54 inspired window 2015

Disco drives Harvey Nichols’ 2015 window dance as Studio 54 comes to the party. Photo (C) Harvey Nichols


This year’s lavish windows – there are 13 at the Harvey Nichols flagship Knightsbridge store – have been inspired by 1970s disco era and its epicentre, Studio 54. The store’s own shopping list including one million flakes of glitter, 300,000 sequins and 600 mirror balls. Where’s John Travolta when you need him?

109-125 Knightsbridge, London


Harrods holiday windows 2015 once upon a christmas mice

From Bottega Veneta to Balenciaga and mischievous mice … Harrods swings into holiday mode.


Britain’s largest and most famous department store has a grand tradition of Christmas windows to uphold. Owned since 2010 by the oil-rich state of Qatar, Harrods’ pockets are deep: This year’s colourful theme, created by Alex Wells-Greco, is Once Upon a Christmas — each window framed in plush red velvet curtains and decorated with lights and puppet performers.

Says Harrods’ head of visual merchandising, Alexander Wells-Greco, “A key target for us this year was to really engage and interact with families, with children becoming the main focus and hero of the season.” Look for the Chrisatmas mice, movement and magic!

One window features Burberry‘s Thomas Bears, while Balenciaga‘s window showcases a swinging circus performer decorated with the label’s Christmas accessories. Additionally, Stella McCartney and Bottega Veneta each have a featured window.  According to Harrods’ visual merchandiser, creating the window installation is a 10-night process, involving 110 hours of setup across the 40 windows surrounding the store.

Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge;



Dubai’s swelling expat community ensures that the festive season is widely greeted in a western way in the emirate’s enormous shopping malls. The merging of cultures is entertainingly apparent at the huge Wafi City Mall, a pyramid-shaped complex with an ancient Egyptian theme, which in December sprouts a 15m-tall Christmas tree in its atrium and a snowy-roofed Santa’s Grotto within. But there’s no topping the Mall of the Emirates. Along with its festive trees and traditional displays including animated, drum-beating palace guards, MoE offers the chance to meet Santa amid real snow on the slopes of Ski Dubai, the ski centre housed within the shopping complex.

Mall of the Emirates, 1 Al Barsha, Dubai;



Myer christmas windows jennifer hawkins launch 2015

Face of Myer Jennifer Hawkins launches the 2015 Myer Melbourne windows, through the eys of a little lost dog


The animated Christmas displays in Myer’s Bourke Street, Melbourne, windows are a 60-year-old tradition, and one that designer John Kerr, now in his 22st year, doesn’t take lightly. “I made a conscious decision when I was just 12 that one day I would produce the Windows,” he says. “I’m responsible for the Christmas memories of the next generation.” Myer’s seven windows always centre on a current children’s book, decided by February. This year’s window is based on Little Dog & the Christmas Wish. Set on Christmas Eve in 1956, it includes many of Melbourne’s most iconic sites such as Flinders Street Station, the Block Arcade, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms and the Skipping Girl Vinegar neon sign in Richmond. When asked about the inspiration behind Little Dog and the Christmas Wish, author Corrine Fenton said: “Christmas is usually a time that animal shelters experience an influx of pets, and I wanted to send a warm message about taking care of your pets over the holidays…”.  The Myer Christmas Animated Windows, from the inspiration to the installation, is an 11 month process with 30 artisans contributing more than 17,000 hours of work to bring the year’s story to life.

Myer Melbourne, 314-336 Bourke Street;



A cool cocktail street party (albeit in the rain!) marked David Jones’s Christmas window unveiling, featuring animated illustrations by artist James Gulliver-Hancock. Guests included David Jones model ambassadors Jessica Gomes and Montana Cox, and April Rose Pengilly. Tim Rogers, who fronts Australian rockers You am I, played some songs and the Sydney Street Choir dusted down Christmas carols. Peanut brittle and white Christmas were in big demand on the sweet treats table.

86-108 Cnr Castlereagh Street, Sydney;



The designer-label department store, which traces its origins to a bamboo stall in 1850, woos Christmas customers with its elaborate windows – then wows them with interior displays. Shopping malls in HK generally go to enormous effort and employ cutting-edge animation and digital projection techniques closely followed by international designers. Lane Crawford’s ace is Gary Card, a British fashion and theatrical set designer whose CV includes creating costumes for Lady Gaga, and whose “Christmas books” are keenly renowned among locals for freshness and whimsy. In Hong Kong, generally, it’s difficult to miss Christmas spectacles, whether in oversized decorations or Christmas cards projected onto the sides of skyscrapers.

IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central;



tiffany christmas window 2015 fifth avenue diorama

Tiffany & Co wraps up warmly for Christmas 2015


Global luxury brands like Tiffany & Co and Louis Vuitton share the holiday spirit internationally by designing and distributing “institutional” window sets: the feel is no less festive in Johannesburg or Shanghai than in Fifth Avenue or the Champs Elysees. Tiffany’s five windows on Fifth Avenue were, for almost 40 years, the canvas of Gene Moore, a legend in visual merchandise circles. His modern counterpart, Richard Moore (no relation), is a dapper Englishman with a background in theatrical design who spends the equivalent of three months each year touring Tiffany’s international stores.

Moore and his team design a new theme annually for the flagship store, aiming to capture a sentiment of Big Apple romance that translates around the world. The jewellery institution flashes back to the 19th century for this year’s holiday displays, with each window depicting a fairytale-like winter diorama. Expect a tree covered in Tiffany designs, a bow bridge, a gift-laden mantelpiece and a broad assortment of porcelain animals and people. The exterior of the store is part of the show — hosting a light show inspired by the Tiffany diamond’s display at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Tiffany & Co, Fifth Avenue & 57th Street, New York;


Barneys holiday windows 2015 dale chihuly christie three sixty tom sibley

Barneys is Chillin’ Out … in this window a glass scultpure by Dale Chihuly, lit by Christie ThreeSixty. Photo Tom Sibley/courtesy Barneys New York


Under the direction of Creative Director Dennis Freedman, Barney’s visual team hasthis year  created Chillin’ Out,  a uniquely icy vision achieved via a partnership with  some of the world’s most creative makers: renowned artist Dale Chihuly, luxury automaker Lexus, Utah-based Ice Castles, the artist collective Okamoto Studios, the powerhouse animators from Invisible Light Network, and technological miracle-worker Christie THREE SIXTY.

660 Madison Avenue, New York;


bergdorf goodman holiday windows 2015 swarovski crystals

Some seven million Swarovski crystals have been deployed in Bergdorf Goodman’s 2015 holiday windows


Suits of armor, a fortune teller’s lair and a life-size King Neptune dripping in pearls and enough Swarovski crystals to sink a ship … welcome to Bergdorf Goodman’s 2015 holiday windows, dubbed Brilliant Holiday. Three fashion designers — Johnson Hartig of Libertine, Naeem Khan, and CD Greene — have contributed Swarovski-embellished looks for the windows this year, and the store’s salons dazzle with chandeliers by design maestros Michael Anastassiades, Tord Boontje, D.B. Kim, and Yves Béhar. The windows were christened on November 16 by Nadja Swarovski, Linda Fargo (Bergdorf’s legendary tastemaker), and David Hoey, BG’s senior director of visual presentation, who designed the breathtaking windows. Brilliant, indeed.

754 5th Avenue, New York;



The Big Apple has no monopoly on department stores, nor on letting its hair down for the holiday season. Neiman Marcus opened in Dallas in 1907 and has notched up some Christmas-window innovations; one, in the early days of air-conditioning, featured a copper tree, whose freon-filled branches froze on cue. Long-serving designer Ignaz Gorischek has amazed onlookers with a fully robotic family trimming a Christmas tree. Since 2008, Gorischek’s signature trick has been the maze of crawl-tubes that provide a public portal to the land of fantasy behind the glass. Children and adults pay a small fee, all proceeds of which are donated to a local charity.

1618 Main Street Dallas;



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