As a child I would spend my Thanksgivings around the dinner table at my Grandmother’s house with the rest of my family, all 30 of us. My Grandmother would insist on using her finest china, sterling silver and crystal glasses. She didn’t worry about the clean up, counting on her 3 daughter’s in law to leave the kitchen spic and span. The next day, full of energy and raring to go, she’d throw me, my brother and our cousins into her station wagon with her vicious toy poodle Bucky and we’d head to The City for the Christmas window displays.
San Francisco’s Union Square is a great place for leche vitrine-ing with Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus at each corner of the square. But my favorite windows were the windows at the local, extremely exclusive GUMPs where they’d install elaborate Victorian rooms with silk brocades and golden baubles and in each room would be a litter of orphaned kittens or puppys read for adoption through the SPCA, who had a table in front of each window to make it all easy.
As a kid I loved these windows and the frolicking pups. And as an adult in today’s world I appreciate them even more because they were about doing something for someone (or something) else and not blatant mass commercialism.
I am not a Grinch and I still love visiting the animated holiday windows in Paris, but this year I was a bit put off by all the branding. The city’s department stores alternate animated children’s windows with windows featuring fantastical products of what can be found by stepping beyond the glass. Fair enough. But it seems to me that just this once, at Christmas time, they could give a commercial-free moment to the kids and leave the animated windows to pure fantasy. Louis Vuitton chose to do otherwise this year, creating scenes of LV bag toting dancing polar bears and rockette-style dancers on LV trunks. yes, they were beautiful, and yes the the kids loved them, but I found it all over the top.
The windows at Printemps showed considerable more class. Decorated by DIOR, with a discretely placed logo decorating the animated windows which were product free. The theme is Paris, with windows that feature skating on the Eiffel Tower, the Opera and ball with costumed princesses dancing in the arms their princes charming. They are gorgeous and elegant and made me want to be 7 years old all over again.
Not that the Bon Marché cares what I think, but I’d like to congratulate them for getting back on the right track, because the last few years their windows have been tragically adult-oriented, forgetting the kids and destroying the festive spirit. This year they almost make up for it with particularly fun ramps that lead the kids to the decorations behind cut outs of the roof tops of Paris. The black and gold clad windows were designed to celebrate the department store’s 160th birthday and what better way to celebrate that by featuring the monuments of the Rive Gauche? they do it this year with joy and style, making it a merrier Christmas for everyone.