The Unbearable Banishment: It's Christmastime in the city

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Christmastime in the city

Here's my annual photo blast of the holiday windows at Lord & Taylor's flagship store on 39th and 5th. They've been dressing their windows with special Christmas displays since 1914. The work is done below street level on platforms that raise into place. Lord & Taylor employees are allowed into the basement to preview the displays prior to the public unveiling. It's nice that some prime retail window real estate isn't used for product placement during the holiday season.

This year, they had the peculiar idea of having people submit their favorite Christmas memories and turned a select few into window displays. A pretty cool idea if you're memory is chosen, but unless you're Charles Dickens, I don't give a fart how you spent Christmas in your youth.

The displays have a mostly contemporary look to them and are, for me, a bit of a disappointment as compared to displays of the past. I miss the detailed work and ambiance of the usual visions of Ye Olde Victorian Christmas. You can click on these to blow them up for a closer look.

Here's the left half of a carriage house that's right out of Architectural Digest.

Here's the right half that includes the living space.

If you look upstairs, there's a big 70s disco party in progress. Mirror ball and all! Remember when people use to remove the grill cloth from their stereo speakers to watch the woofers dance around? I looked closely for an authentic '70s era bong but didn't see one. Nor a lava lamp.

This is a brownstone exterior. It's the kind of home I would love to live in, so I swooned and my knees got weak when it came into view.

The left half swivels opens to reveal the house interior. These displays always seem to have a disproportionate number of white people in them!

Here's the left half of an apartment building with art deco flourishes on the façade. Downstairs is a 1950's kitchen with vintage appliances and a mom cooking dinner while wearing a dress. See what I mean? White people!

Here's the right half of the apartment building.

Here's a short film that shows a 50's family marveling at a wonderful new invention: television! Rabbit ears and all. The entire scene pivots to a contemporary family watching Rodolph on a big flatscreen TV. Finally! Integration takes root. Above them, Santa dive-bombs onto 5th Avenue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is wonderment! Thank you! LOVE the video...

And at least they didn't insert any people of color on those fire escape ladders, or hiding in the shadows. That might have been worse than the sin of ommission...

December 20, 2010 at 9:46 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I had never thought about it ... but you are right: there are always too many little people in those displays!

December 21, 2010 at 5:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I clicked and clicked and nothing blew up. Pfft. False advertising.

December 21, 2010 at 5:35 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

But the profusion of white people reflects the time I think. Just as 'Mad men' revealed what a long way we had to go in evening things up.
My mother had a lava lamp which had a sort of floating blood clot. Very puke worthy.

December 21, 2010 at 5:52 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: They also left out any drunken derelicts sitting in the corner with a bottle of Christmas cheer.

Ellie: Little *white* people! It's very Eisenhower-era.

kykn: Wouldn't it be cool if it really were that literal!?

Pat: What?! Minorities didn't celebrate Christmas back then? Lava lamps are a lot of fun after your third joint. I hear.

December 21, 2010 at 6:21 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

Love the brownstone. And the dive bombing Santa

December 21, 2010 at 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe they forgot the lava lamp or the poster of John Travolta in his famous Disco stance....I think the last pic was an interesting perspective of Christmas past and Christmas current.

December 21, 2010 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: Don't you wish you could wave a magic wand and magically make that home your own? I do.

MT: Do you see those bottles of wine on the table in the 70s party? They're Boon's Farm Apple.

December 21, 2010 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Eryl said...

Thank you for this little taste of Christmas in the city, it takes me back to the days when we would go to London especially to see all the window displays. If I remember rightly Liberty on Regent Street was always the best.

December 21, 2010 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

"Pat: What?! Minorities didn't celebrate Christmas back then?"

It was more that they were pushed to the background in the general scheme of things.
Deplorable and we have made some progress since - thank the Lord.

December 22, 2010 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

My favorite 70s-era bong was shaped like the Starship Enterprise. It was huge.

December 22, 2010 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Eryl: I've ALWAYS wanted to go to London for Christmas. One day...

Pat: True, that. I'm sure if they did a window display of how the downtrodden celebrated Christmas, it wouldn't be as cheery as what we see here.

HIF: That's fantastic! I'm jealous. I once owned a black ceramic bong in the shape of a human skull. The pipe came out of the top of his head.

December 22, 2010 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

That video is too cool! But, yeah, I agree... I like the Victorian era stuff better too, rather than the modern scenes depicted.

December 22, 2010 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

Merry Christmas, Mr Banish!!!

December 24, 2010 at 6:02 AM  

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