The weather has been mild in New York this week, even warm at times. With the temperatures this out-of-season, a stroll to look at the 5th Avenue holiday windows feels a little out-of-sync. On Wednesday afternoon, the usual crowds were thin compared to past seasons. Maybe it takes a large dose of frosty air to get people in the mood. A haze pervaded the atmosphere, making window viewing somewhat murky. The clouds lifted late in the afternoon, so evening visitors had a better go at it.
|Begin the window walk near W. 58th St. and 5th Avenue at the fountain in front of The Plaza Hotel.|
The window decorators, nevertheless, did their best to cut through the haze. The windows are dazzling affairs this season, with millions of crystals and jewels. They're also a little decadent. With the exception of Bergdorf Goodman, this sense of staying too long at the party could be the fault of the mannequins, who invariably look too thin and too bored. Bergdorf has managed to find some that actually smile. The ice queens in the southern windows of Saks particularly bear this out. Together, the windows exude a fin-de-siècle nostalgia for better times, with turns toward Greek myth, royal fictions, and glam rock.
|"Treasured" at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 5th Avenue|
|"The Crown Jewels" at Bergdorf Goodman|
|"The Crown Jewels" at Bergdorf Goodman (detail of fancy dog)|
|"Glitterati" at Bergdorf Goodman|
Not to say the windows aren't great fun, particularly in the handsome details and imaginative constructions. The first stop on the walk, and the highlight, begins at Bergdorf Goodman (above). Millions of Swarovski crystals went into making the dazzling windows. Titled “Brilliant,” the windows play on themes of rock mining, pearl diving, the exploitations of empire, and good 'ole rock and roll. Sophisticated to the max, some young children may find the "irrational exuberance" a little scary. (We miss FAO Schwartz, don't we?)
|Tiffany & Co., 727 5th Avenue|
|At Henri Bendel, 712 5th Avenue|
|At Henri Bendel|
After breakfast at Tiffany & Company on the east side of the avenue, swing back to Henri Bendel's on the west side (above). The windows play upon gallery themes, picture frames, and salon-style wall arrangements, harking back to the 1895 origins of the French-inspired store. And while Henri Bendel's ancestral roots and millinery influences may be in France, the man himself was born in 1868 in French Louisiana, in Vermillionville, the town later known as Lafayette. Older New Yorkers passing by the 5th Avenue windows will remember the old Bendel's in its original location at 10 West 57th Street. At this location, go inside to look at the beautiful Lalique windows.
|Top floor Lalique window at Henri Bendel. The window composition encompasses multiple floors.|
At Saks, a winter wonderland is on display, particularly full of wonder this year as the winter has so far gone missing out of doors. On the 5th Avenue side, the series "Wonders of the World" celebrates world monuments, including the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, the Sphinx, and the Colosseum. On the south side of the store, the ice queens look clearly finished with whatever. And they know it's too hot for them to go outside.
|At Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 5th Avenue|
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from December 9, 2015.