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Window displays to save Christmas

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 10, 2021 5:00 am Updated Dec 10, 2021 11:03 am

In as much as we would all like to forget a lot of the past year and a half, Christmas is always something to look forward to and stores across the world have tried to make this season extra special. For the shopper, it all starts with the window displays, which always bring cheer and lure them to discover the treasures within.

In the big cities of the world, in fact, the traditional season begins when Christmas lights with the most elaborate designs are aglow in the major shopping streets and windows compete for attention as crowds jostle to see what’s on offer. The pandemic somehow stole Christmas last year, with retail sales down and people reluctant to even go out. But this year, major retailers like those in New York are bullish, creating some spectacular displays.

In a New York Times article, Brooklyn residents Jeannie Dumas and her daughter, who stayed home last season, related how they braved the Manhattan crowds this year to admire the displays. “We’ve been through a trauma,” Ms. Dumas said, “but to do things that are ritualistic brings a sense of safety and healing.”

Looking at the different windows online, we discovered that similar themes of saving Christmas for children as well as making dreams come true are common threads that are running through the displays of retailers around the world.

We ourselves at AC+632 find healing in doing our window displays, just as we usually do, but the pandemic gave it even more urgency. Now more than ever, we have to bring joy and if our windows made people happy before, we had to make an effort for it to work double time.

The subject we chose was an elephant named Ambrose who wanted so much to play an important role in the Christmas story, something that pachyderms were always deprived of since they were not considered as graceful as the reindeer. But he persisted and made a trip to Santa’s workshop where he discovered that the reindeer were all hit by the virus, leaving no one to deliver the gifts. His visit turned out to be a most timely one that made Saint Nick jolly again. Thanks to Ambrose’s determination, Christmas was saved.

Elves atop the dome of Printemps in Paris

Looking at the different windows online, we discovered that similar themes of saving Christmas for children as well as making dreams come true are common threads that are running through the displays of retailers around the world.

At Paris’ Printemps, elves are the heroes, traversing the globe to look for new manufacturers after a snowstorm hits Santa Claus’ workshop and halts the fabrication of gifts. Their adventures, from flying above the famous dome of the department store to participating in the creation of the iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume are all depicted in eight magical windows.

Tiptoe the reindeer with Santa at Macy’s

New York’s Macy’s tells the story of “Tiptoe,” a reindeer who dreams of joining Santa’s sleigh team “to deliver magic around the world on Christmas Eve.”

Done in retro style, the displays show her going to flight school, learning how to soar with the help of her pals who give her confidence and help realize her dream. She reminds everyone how important it is to always “Believe” — the store’s slogan, dominating its façade in gold letters.

’70s childhood crochet memories at Bloomingdale’s

Saks Fifth Avenue thought children knew Christmas best and asked them “what they dreamed of doing with loved ones for the holidays.” The children’s responses, which included games, tropical getaways, carnivals and more were brought to life in 3D versions of children’s drawings done in happy candy colors.

Being witty and having fun in “The Present Moment” at Bergdorf Goodman

For Bloomingdales, their “Get Happy” campaign can save Christmas through their staff’s favorite childhood toys and memories of the holidays, resulting in an explosion of festivities and colors — from smiling robots and penguin families enjoying games together to a spinning ballerina and an ’80s-themed dinosaur on a skateboard.

Being happy also means enjoying “the present moment,” according to Bergdorf Goodman where windows celebrate the spirit of freedom, abandon and adventure which they channeled with whimsical tableaus done in their signature extravagant best.

  Magpies’ Dream World of overflowing hampers at Fortnum & Mason

  Santa at Selfridges “Christmas of Dreams” window

At Selfridges in London, it’s a “Christmas of Dreams” with glittering party scenes inspired by director and choreographer Busby Berkeley’s 1930s Hollywood visions and classic Technicolor film musicals from the ’50s, done through surreal sets. Fortnum & Mason’s dreams are those of animals in slumber, conjuring fantastical scenes of hedgehogs skiing down hills of meringue and owls canoeing rivers on teacup.

“Let There Be Light” in glorious colors at Harvey Nichols

Harrods wants you to “Witness A Spectacle” for the holidays with long tables stretching through all their windows, laden with luxury goods presented like sumptuous Christmas feasts. Harvey Nichols, on the other hand, was a little subtler, using stained glass panels of light to reflect glorious holiday patterns that permeate the displays on the windows as well as the sidewalk outside, bathing people in the mood-enhancing lights.

“We want to spread holiday cheer by using uplifting colors to evoke emotion, joy and happiness,” says Janet Wardley, the store’s head of Visual Display. “We wanted to create something that would bring a smile to people’s faces.” Judging from the happy passersby seen in photos and videos, they were quite successful indeed.