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NY Stores Unveil Holiday Windows—Celebrity Chefs, Santa Claus, Bubbles and All

Barneys' Simon Doonan reveals all about his store's holiday windows. Plus, check out WNYC's suggested walking tour and slideshow of the windows.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Children check out a Barneys New York window: Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri with his signature squeeze bottle and Wolfgang Puck, who is chewing on a giant shrimp, are in the thro (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Window dresser Simon Doonan isn't a foodie. But after his employer, Barneys, decided to make "food" this year's holiday windows theme, Doonan began sketching banquet tables, food fights and giant sizzling pots with a frenzy. "I felt like Margaret Mead discovering a new tribe of people," the small, impeccably dressed man tells me at Barneys' in-store eatery, Fred's.

Doonan, who is the author of several decorating books and is married to Top Design judge Jonathan Adler, unveiled the five windows he and his team designed for Barneys at the corner of Madison Avenue and 61st Street on Tuesday. The windows are crammed with colorful caricatures of paper mache chefs, and layers of objects that foodies are incredibly familiar with, including pairs of miniature orange Crocs (the shoes chef Mario Batali is known for) and garlands of shiny copper pot scrubbers.

"Our style is very anarchic, quirky, fun, a lot of layers, a lot of mayhem," Doonan says in his lilting Reading, England accent. "It's not an ordered environment. It's an environment with artistic creative chaos. And I think that's what stops people on the street. If the window's too tidy, they don't stop."

Doonan should know by now what stops Midtown Manhattan shoppers and commuters. He's been working windows here for 25 years—that's where his nickname "Mr. Windows" comes from—and he's currently Barneys' creative director. Doonan jokes that although Artists Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol were window designers for a time, as was fashion designer Giorgio Armani, he alone has stayed in it. "One of the nice things about making windows is that they're totally democratic," says Doonan. "If you're an artist and you make art and you put it in a gallery, very, very minuscule portions of the population are going to see it. Whereas windows are the opposite: it is non elitist."

When we walk down to check out Barneys' windows, there do seem to be a broad cross-section of people checking Doonan's windows out. One driver stops his car to have a look at the fairly recognizable chefs staring out of the windows, alongside a man in a Wall Street suit. In one window, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri with his signature squeeze bottle and Wolfgang Puck, who is chewing on a giant shrimp, are in the throes of a food fight. Another window showcases what Doonan calls the food firmament's "gourmet glamor girls"--Rachael Ray, Lidia Bastianich and Paula "Ms. Butter" Deen among them.

"One of my favorite details is Anne Burrell who is trapped in the oven with her yellow hair blazing out through the vents of the oven," Doonan says. "I always think of her in the kitchen slaving away in the heat. So, it seemed kind of fun to pop her into the oven."

A third window serves up a stew of chefs who Doonan calls "the aromatic geniuses, the trailblazers, the revolutionaries": Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Dan Barber, James Beard and Jamie Oliver. A fourth is made up entirely of recycled illycaffè packaging, including the window's manikin who is clad in a giant silver ball gown with an espresso machine crown.

Figuring out which dramatis personae from the food world to include in the windows this year took some doing, along with advice from the Food Network and food guru Lee Brian Schrager. But Doonan says he felt up to the challenge. "This year, the whole celebrity chef thing reached some kind of screeching apotheosis, and we wanted to pay tribute to that in our windows," Doonan says. "People are completely consumed with the idea of food—making food, preparing food—and it's become a spectator sport."

Doonan adds that although they take a year to design and "a horrifying amount of our yearly budget," decorating Barneys' holiday windows are the most fun part of his job. Plus, they're up for six weeks--much longer than the store's windows stay up during the rest of the year.

Barney's was not the only store to unveil its windows before Thanksgiving. On Monday, Lord and Taylor's series of 12 New York Christmas scenes went up at its store on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th. The store polled customers for favorite holiday memories and used them to create sentimental dollhouse scenes that include a disco Christmas, a white Christmas and a 1950s Christmas. Nearby, Macy's presents its traditional "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" mechanical holiday window display on Broadway between 34th and 35th. Around the corner on 34th, Macy's continues its kid-friendly nostalgic look at the holidays in its windows dedicated to "Miracle on 34th Street" and Elf on Broadway.

Hop on the train uptown or take a brisk walk to check out the windows at the three B's: Barneys, Bloomingdale's and Bergdorf Goodman. Bloomingdale's doesn't have much to see in the way of mechanics--it opted to mount slick digital screens of wintry wonderlands at its store on Lexington between 59th and 60th--but Bergdorf's has gone all out. The store's windows at Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th have a wanderlust theme and are packed with cool vintage clothes and objects (including a beautiful Royal typewriter and too many old school maps to count). The windows make you want to buy plane tickets to Japan, Scotland or even outer space--all to the tune of magical Edward Scissorhands-esque music emanating from speakers above. Once you're ready for some food, head to Barneys on Madison between 60th and 61st.

Saks Fifth Avenue unveils its enchanting window story (think the "Nutcracker" with bubbles) at 16 windows on Fifth between 49th and 50th Streets on Monday. Designers Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Jason Wu, Kaufman Franco, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Nina Ricci, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, and Sophie Theallet all made one-of-a-kind pieces for the windows. But 31-year-old Julio Gómez, the director of windows at Saks, says don't expect old-school mechanical shows here: "It's not about the old puppets...it's full-blown animation." Hint: Saks will project a light show on the side of its building that's meant to bring the snowflakes and bubbles in the windows to life.

If you're doing the NYC holiday windows walking tour,

Start at Macy's:

Be sure to catch all of the "Yes, Virginia" Macy's windows on Broadway between 34th and 35th Street. Then, turn the corner onto 34th Street to see a giant inflatable smurf--Macy's has started selling those 1970s and '80s cartoon toys--and windows that pay homage to Miracle on 34th Street and Elf on Broadway.

Then, walk up four blocks to Lord and Taylor:

Lord and Taylor's twinkling white fairy lights at 424 Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets will show you the way to the store's charming windows that showcase its customers' favorite holiday memories.

Next, head ten blocks north to Saks Fifth Avenue:

From Lord and Taylor, head ten blocks north (or hop on a bus), to see the Saks windows on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. On Monday, it unveils its enchantment, snowflakes and bubbles...

Then, walk nine blocks north to Bergdorf Goodman:

From Saks, head to 754 Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets to Bergdorf Goodman. Be sure to round the corner onto 59th to check out more "Wish You Were Here" travel windows that feature the zodiac and ladies with peacock feather shoes.

Next, walk northeast to Barneys New York:

From Bergdorf, walk one block east and two blocks north to get your fill of Simon Doonan's chefs du jour at 660 Madison Avenue, between 60th and 61st Streets. All but one of the foodie holiday windows are on Madison near 61st. You'll find one more window on 61st Street that features artwork from East Harlem school children.

Walk two blocks east to Bloomingdale's:

If want to see Bloomie's new fangled video windows, walk two blocks east to Lexington between 59th and 60th Streets. There's plenty of electronic holiday music playing that will guide you there.

Children check out a Barneys New York window: Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri with his signature squeeze bottle and Wolfgang Puck, who is chewing on a giant shrimp, are in the thro
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Children check out a Barneys New York window: Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri with his signature squeeze bottle and Wolfgang Puck, who is chewing on a giant shrimp, are in the throes of a food fight.

Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse get in on the action.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse get in on the action.

Another Barneys window showcases what Doonan calls the food firmament's
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Another Barneys window showcases what Doonan calls the food firmament's "gourmet glamor girls"--Rachael Ray, Lidia Bastianich and Paula "Ms. Butter" Deen among them.

Simon Doonan, the creative designer for Barneys New York, created the holiday windows along with his team.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Simon Doonan, the creative designer for Barneys New York, created the holiday windows along with his team.

Sandra Lee, who is dating New York Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, is featured in one of Barneys' windows.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Sandra Lee, who is dating New York Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, is featured in one of Barneys' windows.

Chef Mario Batali depicted with a necklace of his signature orange Crocs.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Chef Mario Batali depicted with a necklace of his signature orange Crocs.

Lord and Taylor went with its customers' favorite New York memories for its holiday windows this year. One of the scenes pictured is of a White Christmas.
Mansoor Khan

Lord and Taylor went with its customers' favorite New York memories for its holiday windows this year. One of the scenes pictured is of a White Christmas.

Lord and Taylor includes past and present memories of Christmas in its windows, including this 1950s Christmas scene.
Mansoor Khan

Lord and Taylor includes past and present memories of Christmas in its windows, including this 1950s Christmas scene.

A couple decks the halls in a scene in one of Lord and Taylor's holiday window.
Mansoor Khan

A couple decks the halls in a scene in one of Lord and Taylor's holiday window.

Bloomingdale's decided to go digital this year in its holiday windows.
Mansoor Khan

Bloomingdale's decided to go digital this year in its holiday windows.

Bergdorf Goodman has a wanderlust theme for its holiday windows.
Mansoor Khan

Bergdorf Goodman has a wanderlust theme for its holiday windows.

 

Two gents pause to check out Bergdorf Goodman's holiday windows.
Mansoor Khan

Two gents pause to check out Bergdorf Goodman's holiday windows.

Bergdorf's windows are packed with cool old-school maps.
Mansoor Khan

Bergdorf's windows are packed with cool old-school maps.

More vintage items in Bergdorf's holiday windows.
Mansoor Khan

More vintage items in Bergdorf's holiday windows.

Macy's kept it traditional this year. It presented scenes from the popular Christmas folk story
Mansoor Khan

Macy's kept it traditional this year. It presented scenes from the popular Christmas folk story "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" in its holiday windows.

A detail from Macy's
Mansoor Khan

A detail from Macy's "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" window series.

The puppets are incredibly sharp looking in Macy's holiday windows.
Mansoor Khan

The puppets are incredibly sharp looking in Macy's holiday windows.

Saks' holiday windows will be unveiled on Monday. The main character in its window series is a little girl who is obsessed with bubbles and snowflakes.
Abbie Fentress Swanson

Saks' holiday windows will be unveiled on Monday. The main character in its window series is a little girl who is obsessed with bubbles and snowflakes.

The little girl in the Saks windows wanders through a cabinet of curiosities which becomes the passageway into an enchanted land.
Abbie Fentress Swanson

The little girl in the Saks windows wanders through a cabinet of curiosities which becomes the passageway into an enchanted land.

Saks Director of Windows Julio Gómez shows off an octopus as the holiday windows are being set up. Its windows will be unveiled on Monday.
Abbie Fentress Swanson

Saks Director of Windows Julio Gómez shows off an octopus as the holiday windows are being set up. Its windows will be unveiled on Monday.

The Saks windows open with a cocktail party at a giant table setting.
Abbie Fentress Swanson

The Saks windows open with a cocktail party at a giant table setting.

One of the hi-tech bubble cars in Saks' holiday windows.
Abbie Fentress Swanson

One of the hi-tech bubble cars in Saks' holiday windows.

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Comments [6]

Jami Giovanopoulos from NYC

The magnificently funny caricature heads of the chefs were created by Brooklyn artist Liz Lomax:

http://www.theispot.com/whatsnew/2010/11/liz-lomax-barney-s-holiday-windows.htm

Dec. 02 2010 03:03 PM
Talis from NYC

If you can't make it to NYC over the holidays or don't have time to see all of the windows. You can find photos of all of them here: <a href="http://blog.vandm.com/2010/11/new-york-citys-holiday-windows-2010.html">http://blog.vandm.com/2010/11/new-york-citys-holiday-windows-2010.html</a>

Nov. 30 2010 12:12 PM
Benjamin from Queens Village, N.Y.

My mother told me some advice not to get burned while cooking. She told me I can still cook some food for myself but I have to stay away from cooking while I get a job or look for one. I cooked some food for myself and for my family even when my father is gone. I was concerned because my aunt and my father were both cooking.

Nov. 28 2010 04:40 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, heldentenor & opera composer from www.WagnerOpera.com

Is it possible that the window dressings at Christmas and Easter might include scenes wherein historical or mythological subjects would be accompanied by extraordinary music playing, albeit canned, not the "live," exposed to the vagaries of weather and space, format. This might add real class. Even the most thrilling or refreshingly relaxing music can be boring when heard too frequently. The quality of the performing artist/artists might, however, successfully be accepted as intriguing "party crashers" endured for their uniqueness. Except in rare cases we do not hear huge, rich-voiced singers with all the attributes of consummate ease of vocal production and the Italian "open throat" vocalism.
For pharyngeal singing with "squillo," ping, ringing top to bottom notes, visit my website www.WagnerOpera.com.
My vocal training with "Met" Opera legends: Friedrich Schorr, perhaps the greatest Wagnerian baritone, his Hans Sachs and "Ring" operas' Wotan considered without peer; Frieda Hempel, the "Met" Opera coloratura who partnered Caruso in Buenos Aires as well as the "Met" and Covent Garden and premiered the Met's "L'Elisir" with Caruso on December 30th, 1916 and was the first Berlin and "Met" Marschallin, a role usually given to dramatic sopranos and was chosen by the "Met" Opera's Gatti-Casazza and P.T. Barnum to replicate Jenny Lind's debut concert in the USA on the hundredth anniversary of her birth in 1923, with over one hundred and twenty concerts, starting at Carnegie Hall; Maregarete Matzenauer, "Met" Opera singer partnering Caruso as Delilah, Amneris, Carmen, Tosca and Fides, and singing both the mezzo and dramatic sopranos roles in the Wagner oeuvre, Brunnhilde, Brangaene, Isolde, Kundry, and many others, singing in 5 languages: Russian, German, French, Italian and English; Karin Branzell, "Met" Opera singer who succeeded Matzenauer as mezzo, singing all the Wagner operas opposite Melchior; Alexander Kipnis, "Met" Opera basso famous for his Wagner, Verdi, Mozart and Moussorgsky roles, particularly his signature role as Boris, and his performance in the Hugo Wolf and Brahms "rep"; John Brownlee, "Met" Opera & Glyndebourne baritone in the Mozart, signature role being Don Giovanni, in Puccini, Wagner and Humperdinck roles; Enrico Rosati , teacher of Gigli, Lauri-Volpi, Melchior [yes, Melchior when he arrived at the "Met" sought out Rosati to learn pp singing as taught to Gigli] and Lanza ; and Gennaro Barra Caracciolo, a student himself with Giovanni Martinelli, with Mandolini in Italy, the head voice teacher at La Scala with students Enrico Campi, Vladimir Atlantov, Gino Penno and Gianni Raimondi, who prepared me for my Arnoldo [Guglielmo Tell] role.

Kenneth Bennett Lane
Wagnerian heldentenor
Director, Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, where all the Wagner AND
Shakespeare roles are taught
Website: www. WagnerOpera.com, where at "Recorded Selections" one can download 37 complete selections, "Carnegie Hall LIVE."

Nov. 27 2010 07:35 PM

We made the fix. Thanks very much, Dbuehler!

Nov. 22 2010 10:35 AM
Dbuehler from 02747

Throes. NOT throws.

Nov. 22 2010 10:05 AM

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