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Holiday Frame of Mind

Retailers battle dull economy with vivid window displays



Economists forecast a difficult holiday season and discount-minded consumers headed out to shop with less cash in their pockets. So retailers retaliated with the message that even in these tough times, holiday windows can create the mood that drives the season's sales.

“I think holiday windows target the feeling that the holidays are a special time of year to give, and to indulge in a luxury,” says Tim Wisgerhof, window director at Saks Fifth Avenue (New York). “The windows are selling merchandise, but it's really about inviting the customer into a frame of mind and a spirit.”

And while store windows take on a different role during the holidays – not only selling specific merchandise, but also a seasonal feeling – retailers know the expense of decking out their windows is generally money well-spent.

“In my 10 years designing holiday windows, I've never really had a problem justifying that we need to pull out all the stops for the Christmas windows,” says Lucy Ann Bouwman, visual display director for Boston jeweler Shreve, Crump & Low. “Holiday windows attract the younger customer who is going to be the retailer's future. They leave an imprint.”

This year, a message of joy and hope was revealed in windows where worlds of fantasy came to life. Bouwman's jewelry windows focused on the wishful nature of the season with images of children in activities such as fishing or swinging on the moon. Wisgerhof's Saks windows displayed the old-world opulence of St. Petersburg, Russia (New York's sister city) in celebration of the city's 300th anniversary, as well as the story of Sleeping Beauty, based on the book “The Sleeping Beauty: A Journey to the Ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre.” (Saks'New York holiday windows will be featured in VM+SD's March issue.)

Elsewhere on the streets of New York, FAO Schwarz brought Pinocchio to life, Lord & Taylor shared its take on the classic Nutcracker ballet and Fortunoff created a storybook winter theme with the characters of the North Wind, Snow, Darkness and Ice. “There is a common theme of fantasy because these days we want to find comfort, get our minds off of things and escape into a comfort level,” says Wisgerhof.

Bloomingdale's New York

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The Rockettes kicked up their heels for the 2002 holiday season at New York's Bloomingdale's, where the retailer saluted the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Using authentic costumes and set decor from the show, windows scenes included March of the Wooden Soldiers, Christmas in the City and Let it Snow.

Bloomingdale's celebrated the 2002 holiday season in true New York style by re-creating scenes from the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes.

Using authentic costumes and set decor from Radio City, the windows re-created the world-famous show, starting at the corner window on 60th Street and Lexington Avenue where shoppers were greeted by images of the Rockettes standing in front of the theater marquee. The window show continued down Lexington toward 59th Street with scenes from the March of the Wooden Soldiers number, Christmas in the City (where the Rockettes are dressed in their signature green velvet holiday outfits) and ending with Santa's Christmas Eve ride, with Santa and the Rockettes suited up as reindeer.

In addition to the sidewalk decor, Bloomingdale's exterior was adorned with white mini-lights stretching from the marquees to the roof, two 10-foot trees placed atop the Lexington Avenue marquees and four 12-foot wreaths hung on Third Avenue.

Client Team: Bloomingdale's, New York – Joseph Cotugno, operating vp, visual merchandising; Harry Medina, window director; Jack Hruska, senior vp, visual and store design


Design Team: Hotöpp Associates Ltd., New York – Bill Hoffman, set design; Radio City, New York – Howard Kolins, show producer

Suppliers: Viaggio Inc., New York (fabrics); Lighting Services Inc, Stony Point, N.Y. (light fixtures); Adel Rootstein, New York, Patina-V, City of Industry, Calif. (mannequins/forms); I.C.B.A Inc., Jersey City, N.J., Spartacus Red Productions, New York (props/decoratives); Dimensional Lettering, New York (signage); Radio City, New York (original Rockettes costumes)

Window and Interior Lens Inc., Spotswood, N.J.

Shreve, Crump & Low

Wish Upon a Jewel

“I always love to do something that relates to children,” says Lucy-Ann Bouwman, visual display director for Boston jeweler Shreve, Crump & Low, “because I always believe that we like to think back to when we were kids.”

This year, Bouwman turned to the stars – and the wishes and dreams people of all ages hang on them – to create a “Wishes Do Come True” theme. To capture such magic, child-size figurines bathed in white and sparkles were posed on crescent moons in various activities, such as fishing, en-pointe, swinging, cuddling and painting the nighttime sky. The white palette of the windows was infused with LED lighting that changed the color of the sky from light blue to magenta on a 12-second cycle.


Since the jeweled merchandise was removed at night, Bouwman says she was challenged to make the windows look as good with merchandise as without. The designer used Lumisty-covered acrylic boxes, which displayed merchandise during the day, to reinforce the magic of a wish coming true. The boxes appeared frosted until the viewer was standing directly in front and could see a wrapped SC&L box inside.

Client: Shreve, Crump & Low, Boston – Lucy-Ann Bouwman, visual display director

Design Team: Sightgeist Design, Boston; Multi-Versions Inc., Montreal

Outside Design Consultants: Lighting Services Inc, Stony Point, N.Y. (lighting); Sands Graphics, Cambridge, Mass. (graphics); Multi-Versions Inc., Montreal (props/decoratives); Color Kinetics, Boston (lighting)

Suppliers: Sands Graphics, Cambridge, Mass. (graphics); Lighting Services Inc, Stony Point, N.Y., Color Kinetics, Boston (lighting); Multi-Versions Inc., Montreal (Lumisty)

Riya Lerner, Boston (Shreve, Crump & Low)

More Holiday Windows



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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