This year’s theme, “Christmas through the Years,”

New York is the bastion of dazzling department store Christmas cheer

Allentown merchandising genius Max Hess once noted that a department store’s windows should be “like a stage set well lit with items ingeniously displayed,” and for years his Christmas displays were standing room only as people crowded the sidewalks outside Hess’s for the free holiday show.

With the advent of indoor malls, however, this kind of Christmas voyeurism is becoming a thing of the past. Today, New York City’s Fifth Avenue remains one of the last bastions of Christmas viewing. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors come to enjoy animated sound and light displays conjuring up visions of holiday nostalgia and stirring up high quality designer replica handbags wholesale memories of childhood innocence and long ago traditional celebrations.

And so this year, as in the past, the famous shopping avenue is ablaze with elves, Santas, reindeer, red velvet ribbons, snowflakes, Christmas trees and wreaths galore. And once again stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord Taylor have erected brass railings along the sidewalk to create orderly processions for the expected crowds.

But there is a difference.

Traditionally, the holiday colors are red and green, but this Christmas, it is red, white, blue and green as patriotism mixes with the holiday spirit. Snowflakes hang over the streets. Buildings are festooned with garlands of green wreaths and American flags hang everywhere.

And while many of the windows are filled with memories of the innocence of Christmases past, the Christmas present is subdued by the memory of Sept. 11. Macy’s has changed its usual window trim of red and green to red, white and blue.

“We used colors matching the ones we used around the store during World War II when we did a special bond window,” explains Samuel Josephs, Macy’s design director. “We also added American flags in our miniature windows on the Broadway side, as well as American flag stickers on all windows cheap louis vuitton bags from china around the store.”

At Barney’s, the store’s Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags usual quirky irreverence replica louis vuitton bags salutes the spirit of cheap replica handbags New Yorkers, elevates Mayor Rudy Giuliani to an icon and has offered to auction off all props and design elements featured in the windows at the end of the holiday with the proceeds going to the Mayor’s replica designer handbags Twin Tower Fund.

The American flag has become as much a part of the design of Fifth Avenue as Santa and his trees.

Many Christmas decoration aficionados start on upper Fifth Avenue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since 1957, the museum has chosen a Baroque theme. This year’s 20 foot blue spruce tree is covered with fifty 18th century Neapolitan angels and underneath is a unique 18th century creche with more than 200 antique figures depicting the Nativity, the procession of the three Magi, their retinue of Asians and Africans, and a panorama of an Italian town square reflecting the creche’s origins in the days of St. Francis of Assisi.

In addition, this is the high quality replica handbags china first year that the museum has celebrated Hanukkah with a highly ornamented menorah dating from 1791 and supposed to have belonged to a Polish synagogue.

But for more immediate pizzazz, head down Fifth Avenue where the real Christmas spectacle begins. The General Motors Building is covered with an extravagant display of red ribboned, red and white balled wreaths. Its plaza is filled with sleighs, trees and flags. Across the street, the Plaza Hotel’s fountain is surrounded by masses of glittering trees. At 59th Street, Bergdorf Goodman is trimmed with harvest wreaths, and its windows are filled with ornate and period fashions with elaborate backdrops. Cartier is packaged with a three story red velvet bow. The Trump Building is bathed in silver and gold wreaths and a massive American flag.

Harry Winston’s windows are filled with luxurious glitz and surrounded by pine cone garlands. The Disney window has Cinderella and her pink boa Christmas tree, Goofy and Mickey Mouse. Louis Vuitton and the St. Regis Hotel glisten with trees covered with sparkling orange and white balls; Henri Bendel’s windows show white neon peace signs and the words “Peace On Earth,” and the famous snow angels trumpet away at Rockefeller Plaza, while down below skaters skate and tourists crowd its towering, world renowned glittering tree.

But the action begins at Saks Fifth Avenue, which in the last few years has adapted a Christmas oriented story line for its prime Fifth Avenue windows. cummings poem about a little tree whose only goal is to become someone’s special Christmas tree.

The windows show Raschka’s colorful, imaginative renderings. We follow the route of the little tree from the forest, to the streets of New York, into the hearts of two little children, and finally to their home in a New York apartment.

The sentimental story told through animated figures in a pastel palette of greens, blues, yellows and oranges is narrated by the “Pepsi” girl, young actress Hallie Eisenberg.

At 39th Street, Lord Taylor fills its Fifth Avenue windows with evocative nostalgia. This year’s theme, “Christmas through the Years,” not only celebrates the store’s 175th anniversary, but takes a closer look at some important commercial Christmas events beginning in 1826 with the first Christmas party held by store founders Samuel Lord and George Washington Taylor.

Another window recreates a London Street and celebrates the first mass produced Christmas card, which was printed in England in 1843. The year 1856 marked the first official Christmas tree lighting in the White House by President Franklin Pierce, and in 1927, General Electric developed a larger sized light bulb base, which led to a new era of outdoor lighting and sparked the tradition of outdoor home Christmas decorations.

Another window takes us to the beginning of another Christmas tradition, the 1933 Radio City Christmas Spectacular with its dancing Rockettes. And finally, 1970 marked the cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk development of Claymation figures and the making of the film “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

Lord Taylor’s design team strives for authenticity. Certainly a lot of research has contributed to the wonderful period costumes, the furnishings and holiday entertainments. The windows are a panorama of social history with details ranging from 19th century string quartets, horse drawn carriages, a re creation of the 1856 White House Oval Room, and the bell bottomed trousers of the 1970s.

“Our motto is accuracy,” says store spokesperson Sunny Lebowitz, adding that the store design team plans the windows a year ahead, almost as soon as the current ones are installed. “Our first recorded windows devoted to the holiday spirit were simple displays of golden Christmas bells swinging out golden notes. We introduced replica louis vuitton handbags animated figures in 1952 and created a charming series of Victorian holiday vignettes celebrating the true meaningful “gifts’ of Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica Christmas. In 1955, we showed the story of the Nativity, but placed it in familiar New York settings, but this year we decided to look back at historic Christmas traditions.”

“Macy’s may have had the first holiday windows,” says Macy’s Josephs, noting that the store had its first holiday windows in 1878 and was the first retailer to use animated mechanical figures in the late 19th century.

This year’s windows celebrate the tradition of the Macy Thanksgiving Parade, which began in 1924 as a Christmas Parade designed to create excitement and bring crowds to the store’s holiday window unveiling.

This year’s theme not only celebrates Macy’s history, but also gives an overview of 20th century pop culture. Elves , gnomes, eager children, reindeer, Roy Rogers, Wayne Newton, Diana Ross and Katie Couric fake designer bags appear in the five windows, each representing parts of different decades. The 1920s ’30s introduces floating balloon figures, the 1940s giant helium balloons. The 1950s ’60s salutes television heroes such as Roy Rogers, Trigger and Wayne Newton. In the 1960s ’70s, the theme is a Motown Christmas with Diana Ross cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk , Betty Boop and Raggedy Annie. In the 1990s, Curious George marches along with Big Bird dressed as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And the 2001 parade shows the arrival of Santa Claus being greeted by Katie Couric and the cast of the “Today” show.

“We’ve been working on these windows since March,” says Josephs. “Sept. 11 changed many things. We had originally included the World Trade Towers in one of our parade floats from the 1970s, and at one point we thought about taking them out, but then we decided that the Towers were part of the history of the city and the parade, and we left them in both as a memorial to the victims, and for the historical correctness.”

Looking back, Josephs noted that improved lighting and computers have made the window designs more elaborate and more “techie.”

“Window designs change constantly,” says Josephs. “When times are good, windows tend to be more ornate to match the mood of the consumer. When times are lean, the windows tend to mirror the economy. We try to save the props, re use them or save them for future use when the public has forgotten them.”

Barney’s has found a unique way to recycle its props and figures and also honor the victims of Sept. 11. Each of the windows in “Santa’s Groovy Grotto” will be used to gather money for Mayor Giuliani’s Twin Towers Fund.

“We’ve always taken a non traditional approach to the holidays,” notes Simon Doonan, Barney’s creative design director. Doonan has been with Barney’s for 15 years and his resume is strong in fashion. So this year in collaboration with New York magazine cheap louis vuitton bags from china , he has created a series of five non traditional fashion oriented windows. These windows, the ultimate in name dropping, pay homage to the New York spirit, honoring both the “ins” and “outs,” and creating a retrospective of New York’s world of politics, fashion and television. They reflect Barney’s quirky fashion sense honoring many of the designers carried in the store, as well as many of its celebrity shoppers.

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