By and and  on December 11, 2008

From outer space to peace and love, one thing is clear in the holiday windows of retailers in the U.S. and abroad: Christmas will shine on despite the tough economy.

At a time when consumers are feeling lackluster about shopping, glitz and opulence are in abundance, a reminder of flusher times.

Bergdorf Goodman’s “Calendar Girls” depicts fantastical scenes based on the four seasons. Spring women hold court in a crystal palace populated with white birds, flowers and butterflies. Summer’s Miss June, Miss July and Miss August cavort near a waterfall in a turtle-filled lagoon, while winter’s women are surrounded by an enchanted forest in shades of white, ivory and silver. Autumn’s gal could be Isak Dinesen swinging on a harvest moon that looks like a pair of tusks, with compasses and jewelry dangling overhead.

Decorators at La Rinascente’s Piazza Duomo store in Milan used nearly seven and a half miles of fabric encrusted with 40,000 chunky Swarovski crystals to create imaginative scenes of the future. Clad in high-tech gear, mannequins sport crystal-studded motorcycle helmets. Others act out scenes from “Blade Runner” while wearing limited edition gift items, all crystal studded, from the store’s Christmas collection.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s sophisticated, wardrobe envy-inducing window display “Love at First Light” teams the retailer with Crystalized Swarovski Elements. Diamond dust is sprinkled on props such as a giant red heart-shaped pouf and one-of-a-kind “crystallized” creations by Ralph Lauren, Zac Posen, Missoni, Isaac Mizrahi, Bill Blass, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta and Michael Kors.

In London, Harrods’ high octane windows channel James Bond via “Quantum of Solace.” The Sunseeker speedboat and Aston Martin driven by Daniel Craig, who plays 007, can be seen in the windows along with the Prada dress worn by actress Olga Kurylenko.

Barneys New York’s counterculture rallying cry, “Peace and Love: Have a Hippie Holiday,” found expression in the retailer’s holiday windows where denizens look like they drank electric Kool-Aid and took a one-way Magic Bus ride to Psychedelicsville. Vignettes paying homage to Joan, Joni, Janis and Grace faithfully represent hippie style, while Marni, Isabel Toledo, Maria Cornejo and Doo.Ri weave the peace sign into their designs.

A cosmic theme pervades Paris’ Printemps holiday windows. Chanel’s blustery winter garden is filled with otherworldly blooms and chains of weightless “Coco” puppets lifted into the air by silver parasols à la Mary Poppins. Selfridges in London is taking a tongue-in-chic approach. Amid neon lights that read “The More the Merrier,” Father Christmas, who has clearly had too much, dangles drunkenly by one foot, upside down, in a room filled with Waterford crystal tumblers.

Olivier Theyskens decorated Nina Ricci’s Avenue Montaigne flagship in Paris with an explosion of mirrors using 3-D window frames made of stainless steel mirror plates digitally cut and folded like origami sculptures. The transcontinental concept of mirrors and shine also was evident at Prada’s Milan flagship at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and its Fifth Avenue unit. “Techno Cave,” a sparkling grotto created with raw-edged mirrors of various shapes and sizes, highlights the label’s party clothes and ornate jelly bean-colored accessories. Paris’ Christofle created an eye-popping display with a spiraling tunnel of golden balls spinning with silver teapots, Champagne buckets and cake platters. Harvey Nichols in London had a similarly shimmery idea, opting for diamondlike geometric prisms reflecting rainbows and light on looks by Balenciaga, Jil Sander and Lanvin.

Home, hearth and winter sports are celebrated at Bloomingdale’s New York flagship, where a family circa 1950 is gathered around the Christmas tree. Adults sip martinis while children patiently unwrap gifts. Never too far away is Tony Bennett, crooning a favorite hit on the record player. The kitschy displays, which look like pop-up greeting cards, were designed by artist Vicki Khuzami and have a vintage quality reminiscent of the era.

In Lord & Taylor’s “My Favorite Christmas Traditions,” Santa peeks out from a musical score for “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” couples hum inside a harpsichord, people skate on Victrolas and a model of L&T glows inside a snow globe. A window devoted to tasty treats finds Santa struggling to get down a chimney, although it seems he’s partaken of too many holiday sweets.

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