“We’re setting up a phantasmagoria,” exclaimed David Hoey, senior director of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman on Wednesday morning, a day before Bergdorf’s holiday windows were unveiled.
There was an extra sense of urgency and euphoria as the Bergdorf’s holiday windows — a nine-month-long project — neared completion. Bergdorf’s, with its windows and its new “Bergdorf Goods” gift shop, is once again asserting itself as one of the city’s main Christmas attractions and selfie sites, like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree some 10 blocks south.
As part of the Neiman Marcus Group, Bergdorf’s was hamstrung by huge corporate debt and a bankruptcy, but those days are gone now.
Last year’s holiday windows used giant-sized words, like “hope” and “love.” “It was a little bit singular in intent. This year, we are thrilled to be back on a scale that we haven’t seen in the last couple of years. The windows are multifaceted, more opulent, yet mad-capped,” said Hoey. “They approach a psychedelic quality. Artists used op art and dizzying patterns all stirred into an extremely colorful and exciting set of windows.”
The windows are in sync with Bergdorf’s overall holiday campaign, “The Present Moment.” They all depict joyous moments frozen in time where whimsical characters are “in the moment”: one window, labeled “Harmonious,” has a classical-meets-pop musical spirit with tumbling pianos; another, called “Euphoric,” shows a mannequin hanging from the moon, deep in outer space.
“These windows are extremely complicated to install, considering the layers of scenery and props,” said Hoey. “Windows are usually tight spaces. It’s like sensory overload. We purposely overstuff these windows in a designed kind of a way, attempting to induce an aesthetic delirium. To us, they are extremely holiday and festive. A state of mind. While we don’t necessarily have Santa Claus, we do have a spirit of holiday.”
The holidays windows represent the visual team’s biggest effort of the year, said Hoey. “Probably 150 people will have worked on them, not only in our studio/warehouse in Long Island City, but at various places in the tristate area,” where sculpture, paintings and props originate.
“We even had some production done in Florida for one of our windows, with a company that paints fiberglass fish in hundreds of styles. There are thousands of parts that all come together in real time during the two-and-a-half-week installation period,” he continued. “They’re Instagrammable works of commercial art that travel online. But when you see the windows in person, you see many more details. It takes a few trips to take it all in. And they’re purposely done with all this complexity.
“Fashion is important in the narrative. It’s a little like costuming,” Hoey said. “This is show business. The mannequin is the center of the action. They’re going places, doing something, basking in the environment.”
Fashions for this season’s windows were provided by Schiaparelli, Marc Jacobs, Halpern, Christopher John Rogers, C.D. Greene, Carolina Herrera, Naeem Khan, Olympia Le-Tan and Simone Rocha.
The Present Moment initiative, explained Linda Fargo, BG’s senior vice president of the fashion office and director of women’s fashion and store presentation, “suggests it’s finally time to do many things, to celebrate again, to travel, have adventure, to be thankful and give back. There is a lot to accomplish in this wonderful season ahead of us. People want to get out, move away from the screen, shop in person and have real interaction.”
A campaign highlight is the “Bergdorf’s Goods” pop-up shop on the seventh floor, a 600-square-foot space that opens Friday and goes through early January. “It’s a tribute to all of the city’s little corner stores, delis and bodegas, through the Bergdorf lens,” said Fargo.
Bergdorf Goods is filled with designer exclusives incorporating elements of New York and Bergdorf Goodman, such as an Elder Statesman cobalt blue sweater with the classic Greek diner coffee cup; Judith Leiber’s New York Yankee and hot dog minaudières; a Joseph Altuzarra cashmere sweater with diamanté buttons representing the chandeliers at Lincoln Center, and an Olympia Litton Frank Sinatra handbag.
The daughter of jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann created artwork inspired by the city and Bergdorf Goodman. Five percent of the sales from the pop up, as well as from Bergdorf Goodman’s three restaurants, will be donated to City Harvest.