Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas in New York

I have a gift for all my wonderful readers.  No, it's not another giveaway, but I think this is much more special.  About a month ago, I had this great idea to share New York at Christmastime with everyone who couldn't be here to see it for themselves.  I waited for all the department stores to unveil their holiday windows, and for the Christmas tree to go up in Rockefeller Center.  I braved the cold—and frozen fingers—to photograph these delights for all of you to see!  I felt like such a tourist, but I needed to complete my mission!  I hadn't even originally planned to photograph the tree (I've seen it before), but it had gone up just two days before, and I was walking by Rockefeller Center anyway, so I figured why not!  I really hope you all enjoy these photographs and stories.  And here's a little spoiler... this post isn't completely unrelated to food... just wait till you get to the Barney's window displays!!  Trust me, it's worth it :)

I started at Macy's and checked out both of their Christmas window displays.  They have one on 42nd Street which is always the same, the classic Miracle on 42nd Street story.  It tells the story of the classic film.  I took a few photographs, but the glare was really annoying and I had to press my camera against the glass at times and take closer pictures to avoid "Foot Locker" sprawled in red across all of the photos, haha.  You can see this in the 4th and 5th pictures down!

The second display this year is entitled "Yes, Virginia" and is based on 8-year old Virginia O'Hanlon's famous 1897 letter to the New York Sun, where she questions the existence of Santa Claus, because "if you see it in the Sun, it must be true."  This display is unique and depicts several scenes from the story, one in each window with paper curtains that open, exposing the animated characters within.  Speakers at each window tell the tale of that window, through the voices of Virginia and her family and friends in each scene.  I thought this was a really cute and inventive display.  I liked how each window was a scene that began and started with the opening and closing of a unique brightly colored paper curtain.  The characters moved within the windows as the stories were told.  When each scene would end, you would move to the next window and wait for the curtain to open and the story to continue :)

Virginia can't understand how Santa can be on street corners and in the North Pole at the same time making toys

Her parents discuss the "new" subway that is being built under New York City, and question how it can be possible

Charlotte, a mean girl at school, tells Virginia and her friends that Santa isn't real

Virginia and her friends go to the library to research Santa and try and figure out for themselves

Virginia asks her dad about Santa, and then decides to write a letter to the New York Sun

She later sees a man dressed as Santa on the street, but he is missing a coat. He says he works for Santa and is doing good deeds for him.

Virginia saves up money in her piggy bank and buys this "Santa" a Santa coat.  He tells her that she is the real Santa that day.

The New York Sun publishes a story that Santa really exists, in response to the letter that Virginia sent them

Next, I headed to Lord and Taylor to check out their displays.  This year, they had collected favorite holiday memories of New Yorkers through emails and Facebook.  These memories are depicted in windows that feature small figurines and alternate between similar scenes of old times and modern times by having sets rotate and slide back and forth covering and exposing various scenes.  I liked these window displays as well, and thought it was fun to see the balance between old traditions and new ones, and how not a whole lot has actually changed, except for maybe technology and fashions :)

I continued up 5th Avenue to Saks, which has a "Snowflakes and Bubbles" theme for their windows this year.  A young pink-haired girl travels through various dream-like scenes, joined by mannequins in fashionable outfits.  Honestly, I didn't really care for this display.  I thought it was just a way of squeezing advertising for their clothing into displays that should have been more holiday-oriented.  So there was a theme that tied them together, a young girl apparently designated to the kids' table at a holiday party, who would rather go off in her own fashionable direction, but to me it just didn't seem like it was in the spirit of the holidays.  The windows proclaimed who had designed the dresses on the mannequins and on which floor you could purchase those items.  It just didn't really do it for me, but you be the judge... maybe this is the style that Saks has used in their previous holiday window displays, but this is my first year checking them out, so I'm not sure.  In any case, I preferred the Macy's and Lord and Taylor windows to these.  They seemed more like the holidays to me.

Across the street from Saks is Rockefeller Center.  I took a moment (amidst hoards of tourists) to capture some photos.  It wasn't easy (only 2 days after the tree was lit!), and I couldn't wait to get out of there, haha.  I hope you enjoy these photos!

There were some non-department stores that had great decorations as well, so I thought I'd share a few more fun pictures from 5th Avenue as I made my way up to Bergdorf Goodman, the next department store on my list...

Cartier wrapped up in a pretty red bow... any girl's dream :)

Fendi is glittering with icicle lights

The Peninsula hung snowflake lights all over the scaffolding around the hotel

Even Donald Trump is in the holiday spirit at Trump Tower

These huge snowflake lights hang across 5th Avenue at many intersections
 I made it to Bergdorf Goodman not too long after I left Rockefeller Center.  By this point my fingers were quite frozen.  Yes, I did have gloves, but I had to take them off every time I wanted to take a picture, and as you can tell, they came off a lot, leaving my fingers aching for some serious warmth.  Bergdorf featured some very funky and futuristic windows, which didn't scream Christmas either, but were more interesting to me than the Saks windows.  They focused on travel and discovery.  I didn't take as many pictures of these windows because my fingers just couldn't take it (and also, some annoying people wouldn't move from in front of some of the windows, and I had lost patience by this point, haha), but here are a few :)

Finally, we arrive at my absolute favorite of the holiday windows, the Barney's windows.  I decided once I got to Barney's that I was not going to go to Bloomingdale's to see their windows, because not could I barely feel my hands at this point, but I heard the Bloomingdale's windows this year are pretty disappointing, 100 LED screens showing scenes of winter.  Not too exciting.  The Barney's windows exclaimed to "Have a Foodie Holiday," and featured windows filled with caricatures of famous faces... of chefs, of course!  Food and the holidays always go together, so this makes perfect sense!  The first window was dedicated to a "Revolutionary Stew" showcasing the "Innovators" and "Trail Blazers" of the industry.  The faces of James Beard, Jamie Oliver, Thomas Keller, Julia Child, and Dan Barber rise up from a large pot over a flame.  The words "Aromatics" and "Geniuses" also rise up in the form of steam.  Faces line the edges of each of the windows, and some of them in this first window include Alain Ducasse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jonathan Waxman, Nobu Matsuhisa, April Bloomfield, Jacques Pepin, Wylie Dufresne, Eric Ripert, and Jose Andres.

The next window is a food fight between a group of male celebrity chefs including Anthony Bourdain, Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse, and Wolfgang Puck.  This window is pretty hilarious, with Mario Batali's head in the middle of the table, his mouth stuffed with an apple, and a circle of orange Crocs arranged around his head.  This window is also bordered with faces of chefs, this time focusing on other male celebrity chefs, such as Tom Colicchio, Jacques Torres, Scott Conant, Marcus Samuelsson, Michael White, and Masaharu Morimoto.

The third window focuses on the ladies!  Paula Deen, Ina Garten, and Sandra Lee (wearing a Cuomo pin) all don Snuggies in this scene with Rachel Ray hanging on the wall (as a clock), Martha Stewart peeking through a window, and Lidia Bastianich in the cupboard.  The faces along the perimeter of this window feature other female food celebrities, such as Cat Cora, Claire Robinson, Nigella Lawson,  and Gail Simmons.

The final window adds a bit of food fashion into the mix... a dress made of illy espresso packages and paper espresso cups.  This is awesome, a truly fun and festive way of incorporating food and fashion into this holiday window display.  Bravo, Barney's!  Your windows rock my foodie world :)


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