New York department store, Bergdorf Goodman has become legendary for its holiday window display and when this year’s display was unveiled on 17 November, it certainly lived up to the heritage of a store celebrating 125 years on 5th Avenue.
The display, on the theme of “Brilliant”, uses millions of Swarovski crystals, bursting with gemstone colour, to complement the equally starry fashion on display – a Marc Jacobs sequinned dress, a Libertine dress, a stunning lilac suit or evening gowns of emerald and ruby. Next door Bulgari is adorned with a giant diamond necklace and down the street, Tiffany is sporting plumes of yellow and white diamonds. No one does holiday decorations like these guys.
Even back in the era when Bergdorf was getting established, New York was gaining a reputation for gilded luxury as a small exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York displays to excellent effect. It is an insight into the visual arts commissioned by the wealthy families of late 19th and early 20th century New York. The objective for some was to gain entry to high society and a few failed spectacularly, their runaway excesses exploding like supernovae and consigning them to social black holes.
The jewels on display caught my eye. Many were made by Tiffany (also sponsors of this exhibition) and feature stunning gems set into seed pearl chokers, art nouveau-style brooches, filigree and granulated gold jewellery inspired by archaeological discoveries of ancient Greek hordes.
If you are in New York, it is well worth the trip uptown to the higher reaches of the Upper East Side to check out these gilded ancestors of Fifth Avenue’s holiday displays. Plus ca change.