Holiday Displays of New York
New York’s department stores put together extravagant window displays during the holiday season. Tourists and locals alike are attracted to the vibrant and creative displays that often have themes.
Though they are thought of as providing entertainment and festive cheer during the holiday season their true purpose is of course to entice customers into the store during the largest grossing period of the year. It is shop-front marketing for increasingly embattled brick-and-mortar stores as the consumer economy continues to shift to online e-tail.
These photographs were made in December 2011, when the Bergdorf Goodman display fittingly had a theme centering around photography and exploration. By photographing at night the colours of the displays are intensified. Window viewers and passers-by become silhouetted against the displays, highlighting body posture and gesture as people interact with the displays or suggesting the displays are interacting with them. This lends the series an air of serendipity or irony.
Update: In 2020 the holiday displays have grander statement, with people less able to shop in person due to continuing restrictions in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The department stores of New York have taken steps to ensure their displays are bigger than ever and can be viewed from a greater distance, attempting to evoke the enduring idea that New York City is the greatest city of the all (NY Times, 25 November 2020). Perhaps this is one last grand hurrah for the department stores that are left (several of the stores with windows in this series are now gone due to bankruptcy, including Barneys and Lord & Taylor).