CHRISTMAS WINDOWS OF THE WORLD
Le Bon Marché (right) claims to be one of the first department stores in France to dress its windows for Christmas. Its first display was in 1893 and portrayed ice skaters on a frozen pond. Later, in 1909, mechanical dolls re-enacted Robert Peary’s expedition to the North Pole and featured a recreation of the Northern Lights and floating icebergs.
According to historian Judith Flanders, by the 1870s, the konditorei (sweet shops) of Berlin had begun placing sugar models of nearby streets and, on a less festive theme, scenes from battles, in their windows. Newspapers promoted the most beautiful displays – a tradition that has continued today, across the world.
NEW YORK CITY
Saks Fifth Avenue (right) staged the first ‘unveiling’ of its seasonal window display in 1914 – an event thought to be the first of its kind. The store used hydraulic lifts beneath the windows, which allowed artisans to work out of public view. The store has continued its tradition of grand unveilings and today live streams the launch on its website.
In 1947, Steiff was commissioned by La Maison Ogilvy to create two animated scenes for its window displays – The Mill in the Forest and The Enchanted Village. They were so popular that, each year, the store would alternate between the two. After being exhibited for 70 years, this year they have been put on permanent display at a local museum.
The festive windows of Myer department store are the most popular in Australia, drawing crowds of over one million. Its very first theme – in December 1956 – was Santa and the Olympics, and was specially designed to tie in with the Summer Olympics which, that year, were held in Melbourne.