Sunday, December 8, 2013

Window Shopping

In keeping with what has become our holiday tradition, we wanted to show you what Christmas looks like in New York this year.

The first sign in New York City that the holiday season is officially open is the appearance of the star at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with the iconic star in its place of honor, but before the tree was lit in Rockefeller Center, we hit Madison and Fifth Avenues to check out the Holiday windows! Our first stop was Barney's on Madison at East 60th Street.

Here's Valerie in front of Barney's main window on Madison Avenue - part of its collaboration with Jay-Z Carter.

Jean takes her turn at this great spot.

Visitors enter a futuristic cubist room on the sidewalk and stand in the pitch dark to view a holographic high-tech holiday image that looked like what we imagine Superman's Fortress of Solitude to be. [Video viewing tip: When you click on the red arrow in the center of this video -- and all of the others, click on the little picture frame on the lower right side of the frame to view it full screen. For some reason, our format squeezes the video unless it's on full screen. Hit your escape key at the end of the video.]  Oh, and the voices you hear in the background of the videos are not ours. They belong to our fellow viewers.

Valerie beckons Jean to pose for a "selfie" of our crazy multiple reflections in the super polished mirrored surface.

This captures the starry end of the show. Barney's posts a sign warning that the flashing lights may trigger epileptic seizures.

We decided to check out the Jay-Z Carter collaboration on the third floor, which had its own separate entryway down a long hall behind the elevators. The collection is obviously geared to the uber-rich male clientele in the skyboxes at Barclays Center!

The small, highly curated collection of men's clothing and accessories includes precious items by designers like Cutler and Gross (limited edition black sunglasses, $695); Rick Owens (crocodile blouson, $58,000); Elder Statesman (white with black detailing cashmere ski mask, $695). A short sleeve cotton tee shirt with NYC in gold foil was a veritable steal at $75! Check our new Instagram account (@idiosyncraticfashionistas) for photos of the ski mask and crocodile blouson!

The customer reaches the collection after walking through a wonderfully disorienting space with grainy black and white projections of subway trains moving through tunnels at high speed. Mr. Carter's design team gets kudos for the technical excellence of its installations, each of which totally engages the viewer. Although we can't afford the clothes, we appreciated the opportunity to experience the environments created.

And as if all that wasn't enough, on leaving (or on entering, actually) you could also stop in and see Santa and his voluptuous helper, dressed in over-the-top Lady Gaga style. When the futuristic sleigh gets moving, screens whisk you through scenes worthy of The Fifth Element or Blade Runner or Star Trek's hyperspace. We were invited in, but there was a line. So many windows to see! So little time!

Tiffany's windows, by contrast, feature dioramas of pristine white townhouses at night like these. Last year, stores seemed to vie to outdo one another with amazing displays. This year we noticed that the competition was much more subdued, and many stores have opted out of the competition altogether.

Valerie in front of Tiffany's northernmost window on 5th Avenue. Judging by her face, she must have seen something (or many things) she couldn't afford.

Cartier wraps its Fifth Avenue store in a bright red ribbon and bow of lights.

Fendi's upside down red fur tree is like no red fir we ever saw.

Bottega Veneta's douglas fir tree is covered in small translucent handbags illuminated from within.

This silver and red confection provides the perfect backdrop for a holiday photo.

Henri Bendel has filled its window with illustrations -- both 2-D and 3-D -- by New York icon Al Hirschfeld.

Audrey Hepburn, this time not at Tiffany's, in pearls with her cup of coffee, is in the foreground; Whoopee Goldberg is over her right shoulder and the legs of Marilyn Monroe (on a step ladder) are over her left.

Bergdorf Goodman's windows are devoted to holidays of all types like the Fourth of July and Halloween. This is the romantic, pink Valentine's Day window, filled with cupids and all manner of cakes. Note the poodle in the lower left corner.

Even Jean's sentimental favorite holiday is included -- Ground Hog day, of course!

This will give you a better idea of the scale and how big most of the windows are. We loved this upside down holiday. What could it have been? Was it April Fool's Day? We should have looked more carefully.

Ferragamo filled its windows with wild animals.

Saks Fifth Avenue's use of traditional moving figures in a storybook format is a real crowd-pleaser. Visitors line up behind velvet ropes to walk past each of the windows, read the tale and view the action. This year, Saks has chosen an adorably friendly young Yeti as the hero of its tale (a portrait of the artist as a young ... Yeti!).  Here, our intrepid young snowman bids his family adieu as he heads for the Big City to pursue his art, which has something to do with assuring the proper shape of snowflakes so they catch the holiday light.

Our hero in action, taking photographs from the prow of a boat. Note the dancing little figure in the photograph on the wall to the right of the shot and the fish moving in the water below the surface.

Our hero.

At one point, he catches a ride in a New York City subway car, behind a very colorful couple. Native New Yorkers will appreciate the "in" jokes involving advertisements on the subway car walls. This particular one parodies the ubiquitous below-ground rainbow festooned ads by New York dermatologist Dr. Zizmor promising clearer skin and advising patients to "call Dr. Z". This one promises more beautiful fur and suggests calling Dr. Y (for Yeti, of course). We had a great laugh over that.

The lady in red freshens her makeup while riding the rails. The rivets on the train doors betray the age of the car - the visible rivets are from a type of New York train that was taken out of service decades ago. (We know 'cause we were there!)


Every year, Saks projects snowflakes on its exterior facade. As the text on the window below informs the public, the Yeti climbed Saks to save the day by making brilliantly beautiful snowflakes and returns each year to repeat the tradition. To everyone's delight, the tale ends happily. As does our posting!

Not only is this a selfie of us on a refracted surface, it turns out it's also a selfie of us with a stealth photographer. LOL!

What we're wearing:

Jean is wearing a purple, turquoise and pink plaid Amy Downs mohair turban; 1980s vintage black faux mouton coat by French designer Jean Philippe Recifrier (from Another Man's Treasure);  mid-century aluminum wire & marble earrings; Eileen Fisher harem pants; leather cross-body bag from street vendor; Miyake Pleats Please drawstring bag; customized Dansko clogs.

Valerie is wearing an unlabeled vintage hat from the most recent Pier Show.  The removable polka dots on the hat are adhesive paper labels from Staples.  Vintage earrings from Japan, polka dot scarf from a shop on Mulberry Street, turtle neck by Plantation, vintage velveteen polka dot coat by Cattiva, purchased at Sunset Boulevard, red glove by Jasper Conran, unlabeled yellow glove, pants by Betsey Johnson, polka dot socks by Tip Toe, red suede hiking boots by Cole Haan.


  1. Thanks for the Christmas Window tour - one of these days I'll get to NYC in December to see them for myself. So glad to finally see THE COAT - it really is a gorgeous piece! I love the expression on the triumphant Yeti.

  2. I miss seeing the windows in person! Thanks for letting me tag along, as usual. xxoo

  3. Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through YOU two.