Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Windows, Bergdorf Goodman

The black tarp that has been convering the windows at Bergdorf Goodman for the past week has finally been removed, revealing a scintillating display of luxuriant and otherworldy window designs.

The theme this year was "elements;" Air, Water, Light, and Earth. A tribute to Tony Duquette, the designer that died in 1999, the windows are reminiscent of the opulent, ornately gilded, and lavishly bedizened costumes and stage sets that he was famous for designing. (Think Liz Tayor meets Liberace).

"Water" for instance, is a chimerical combination of crustaceans and tiny bongo, tambourine, and accordion playing monkeys in red fez and matching coats. Though very captivating in their nautical theme, surrounded by thousands of white mother of pearl shells, the window's focal point is certainly the woman in the dazzling taffeta-bottomed gown that is sultrily being led in a tango by an alligator with jeweled eyes. The overall feel is that of an underwater mardi gras of sorts, though the dominance of red and and white as well as the endless display of seashells are vaguely reminiscent of Santiago de la Ribiera -- a celebrated Saint of a Spanish port city whose favored colors were red and white.

Ruben Pazos, one of the designers that worked on the windows, assured me that every seashell, every sequin, and every mirror in every window was hand stiched, glued, and or placed. The windows have been a work in progress for the past year (mainly their design), and production began last May. Even after the windows had been revealed and viewed by thousands of pedestrians, Ruben was still patrolling for perfection. Design plans in hand, he assiduously examined the "Water" window, making sure that each detail, down to the tiny conch shells surrounding the tiny pedestal where the tiny felt-hat salior stood holding an even tinier flag...were all in their place.

"Air" features a life-size golden elephant covered in jewels from trunk to toe flying through the air with an empress sitting effetely on his back. Though perhaps the least "busy" in the sense that there aren't too many things going on around it, this window seems to get the most attention.

True to its name, "Light" makes anything that Diana Ross wears look like baked potato. Thousands and thousands of circular mirrors reflect the glamour of the red-headed woman seated, legs crossed, before a sparkling 1930's microphone. Though it does have its fair share of critters and small quirks, including a large gold hanging grasshopper that dangles just above the mic, this window is the least imaginative.

Being an Aries, I was excited to see what Bergdorf would do with "Fire." Perhaps by the time I got to this window I had been so barraged with sparkle that it ceased to impress me, but I was not a fan of this window. The dominance of gold made it feel like what I imagine to be the lobby of a 7 story hotel in Dubai. The mannequin's wig, shaped like a Chinese character, is pretty impressive, but otherwise there is nothing worth standing in the cold for.

"Earth," by contrast, is much more refreshing with its palette of poland spring green and pristine white. There is also plenty to look at -- a towering white giraffe with beautiful green, chartreuse, and pink designs painted on it, an oversized snail, a pair of festive monkeys, grasshoppers, and even a poodle.

This window wasn't part of the elements, but I think the parasol-shaped wig is splendid:

I've made a short musical photo show to feature the windows, but unfortunately, quicktime and youtube have really messed with the quality and timing, so I won't include it here.

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