NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue unveiled its holiday windows and 10-story tall theatrical light show at its New York flagship Monday night, featuring a special appearance by former First Lady Michelle Obama, founder of the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance.
The event also highlighted a performance on Fifth Avenue by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. The event can be seen online by viewers worldwide on Saks Live starting at 7 p.m EST tonight.
“It’s so great to be here with our family, our friends and our partners after such a challenging time,” said Marc Metrick, chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, welcoming guests who were seated on bleachers along Fifth Avenue. “At Saks, we consider these holiday windows and this light show our gift to New York City — not just for those who live here, but for those who visit us from near and from far throughout the holiday season.”
The Girls Opportunity Alliance seeks to empower adolescent girls around the world through education. Saks’ support includes a $1 million donation to the foundation to go to the alliance, a multivendor merchandise collection, the holiday window displays at the flagship, a Saks career shadowing opportunity for three young women from the alliance community from Girls Inc., and a digital campaign, featuring special content throughout the holiday season.
The merchandise collection features products across all categories including women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, accessories, kids, home and beauty items. Participating designers include Bond No. 9, Brandon Blackwood, Christopher John Rogers, Fear of God, Jason Wu, Nest New York, Oscar de la Renta, Phillip Lim, Posh Peanut and Sergio Hudson. One hundred percent of the collection’s net proceeds from online sales on saks.com and at participating Saks Fifth Avenue stores from Nov. 23 to Jan. 1 will be donated to the foundation and the alliance. Regardless of the actual sales, Saks will donate a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $160,000, which will be in addition to its $1 million donation.
The holiday window installation featuring the Girls Opportunity Alliance is located on 49th Street at the Saks flagship, on display now through the end of December.
During the season, Saks will highlight content featuring the merchandise collection and background on the alliance across its digital channels. On Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30, Lim and executive director of the Girls Opportunity Alliance Tiffany Drake will host a virtual event on Saks’ digital events platforms, Saks Live, to discuss the importance of giving back during the holidays and the work the organization does to empower adolescent girls. Further, Saks will provide the career shadowing opportunity to three young women from the alliance to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to operate a luxury e-commerce platform. The program will begin during the 2021 holiday season and continue with learning opportunities with various teams across the Saks business throughout 2022.
Speaking at the podium, Obama said, “I want to start by thanking Marc (Metrick) and the entire Saks team for this wonderful event and everything they’re doing for girls’ education.” She then introduced the three “amazing young women” from Girls Inc. — Dreshta Bohria, Caitlin James and Jada Yelverton-Graves — who reminded her of why she got involved in girls education in the first place.
“Back when our family was in the White House, I got to do a lot of traveling and I got to meet a lot of really important people — kings and queens and other presidents and first ladies. But I also met thousands of young people…promising young girls from right here in New York City and from all across the globe.…Young girls who are the heartbeat of their countries. And all of them bright, all of them smart and all of them so incredibly passionate, all of them committed to learning and lifting up their families and their communities.”
She said sadly, too many of them don’t have the opportunity to get the education they deserve because their families can’t afford school fees or many face cultural norms and stigmas too difficult to overcome. After she and President Barack Obama’s time in the White House ended, she said her commitment to these girls continued and they founded Girls Opportunity Alliance, working with local organizations on the ground around the world in countries such as Vietnam, India, Kenya and the U.S. to ensure that girls could complete their education.
She said before the pandemic, 98 million adolescent girls weren’t in school. Now with so many schools around the world forced to close the past couple of years, “too often the question isn’t when girls will return to school, but if they’ll return at all,” Obama said.
“I want to thank Saks for helping to lift up this issue and for giving us all a really beautiful way to support girls all around the world in their effort to achieve educational opportunities worthy of their extraordinary promise,” said Obama, who was dressed in a black sparkly pant and coat set by Christopher John Rogers, the CFDA Women’s Wear Designer of the Year.
For the 12th year, Saks’ holiday windows and light show are presented by Mastercard. The six center windows on Fifth Avenue are inspired by the theme of reconnecting with family and loved ones during the holidays. To bring the theme to life, Saks asked New York-area children, including members of the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, to draw and describe what they dream of doing with loved ones for the holidays. Their responses ranged from carnivals and sweets to games and getaways, which have been brought to life in over-the-top, artful and fantastical ways in the windows.
This year’s light show, on display now through Jan. 4, features a display of more than 700,000 programmed LED lights on the 10-story-tall facade of the building. The music accompanying the light show is a medley based on the theme of reconnecting with one another this holiday season, featuring Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” and The Turtles’ “So Happy Together,” as well as “Carol of the Bells,” “The Nutcracker Russian Dance,” and others.
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