4 years, 10 months ago
For a little glimpse of Christmas magic while there’s still some time in hand this year we’re recommending you take to the streets, keep your cash in your pocket and just watch the windows. For some reason the world’s most famous shopping streets have gone all out this Christmas to dazzle us without charging a centime, a dime or a pence for the pleasure. Hundreds of thousands of visitors every day have been counted just standing have a good, old fashioned stare at the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue. The Champs Elysees lit up on November 20th. London’s Regent Street is more excessive and extravagantly illuminated than ever. And even the haughty designers on Amsterdam’s PC Hoofstraat are kicking up their heels and stamping around in glitter.
So if you aren’t shopped out yet, here’s our round up of windows worth watching in the world this winter – you can buy stuff too, if you must.
New York Window Wonderland
It’s New York so the window displays are dazzling, naturally. But in the season of schmaltz and gingerbready, home spun, joy to the worldliness, elegance is out the door and sentimental is hefty in the windows. Tiffany & Co. live up to Holly Golightly’s expectation that nothing bad could ever happen there with family vignettes, tons of sparkle and charming, cherubic children – what three year old do you know wouldn’t bite your hand off for a square cut diamond this Christmas? Barneys New York has windows ‘baz-dazzled’ by Baz Luhrmann (he said that, not us) and ice-skating, tutu wearing Cleopatras, monster gold candy canes and more angels than you can hark at one go – watch out for mesmerised pre-schoolers looking stunned. Lord & Taylor have taken it totally Downton Abbey and designed stately room sets in every window, complete with towering cake stands, tiny Christmas trees and grand family portraits. And if you find yourself in need of some last minute gift inspiration, Bergdorf Goodman’s entire display is themed on just that – we like the dog sleigh with (almost) real huskies and lashings of snow.
Shiny Shiny Champs Elysees
Avenues of Plane Trees all over France light up as quick as they can for Christmas, but nowhere in the entire country does it quite like the Champs Elysees. The 200 plus Plane Trees lining the most famous shopping street in the world have been glittering away since November 20th with fierce competition from stellar window displays and the fabulous traditional Christmas Market. Stretching from the Place de la Concorde to the Champs Elysees’ roundabout, this is quite probably the most glamorous Marché de Noel in Europe this year. It’s not for bargain hunters (it’s the Champs Elysees) but balance the 8th arrondissement price hike at over 150 stalls with free carousels, stunning lighting displays and round the clock kid’s entertainment, shows and spectacles and you’ll still be able to afford a mug of mulled wine or two.
Ravishing Regent Street
London might not be big on Plane Trees but give it some gorgeous Nash architecture and light bulbs, throw in thousands of agog visitors and you’ve got a bit of an idea of the type of spectacle you can expect on Regent Street this Christmas. Apart from the brilliant street lights – and there are many and delightfully big, bright and vulgar they are too – Regent Street’s home to Hamleys and Liberty and dozens of other mightily famous and glamorous stores. So traditional, toy filled, gorgeous and very, very glittery is pretty much the window dressing theme this year. You might have missed the big switch on, but you’ve still got time to catch that inimitable London lead up to Christmas excitement before the big day itself.
Very Traditional Vienna
When one of Europe’s most expensive cities does Christmas it’s a pretty extravagant affair. From the huge stretch of Kärtnerstrasse for amazing shops and miles of lights to the heart stopping prettiness of the traditional Christmas market at Schoenbrunn Palace and the amazing Vienna Ice World created in front of the elegant City Hall, we couldn’t stick to one street to sing the festive praises of the Austrian capital this year. You definitely want to window shop Mariahhilferstrasse, Kaerntnerstrasse and Kohlmarkt for ramped-up glamour and sheer consumer decadence. And if you really must spend money, pick a Viennese Coffee House, any Viennese Coffee House, and order up Sachertorte in the land that invented the ridiculous chocolaty deliciousness.
Happy (window) shopping wherever you’re shopping this Christmas.