After a sumptuous dinner of seafood and wine at Fish on Bleecker Street with my friend Caitlin, I made my way uptown from the West Village to the Bergdorf windows on 58th Street and 5th Avenue. Earlier that day, in a gift-buying tizzy, I had trudged from the soon-to-depart Henri Bendel on 5th Avenue to Bloomingdale’s on Lexington and averted my eyes from Bergdorf's, knowing full well I would be back in the evening (in my opinion, the best time to see them) and not wanting to ruin the surprise. And, as ever, it was a beautiful, lavish, decadent surprise.
This year, too, it was especially decadent because the windows were themed “Bergdorf Goodies,” each window offering a different spin on a sugary treat, from chocolate to gingerbread to cotton candy, and more. Each window is designed and assembled by a staff of artisans, and the entire process from start to finish takes about 10 months.
In New York’s dizzying swirl of people and deadlines and subway mishaps, it can be easy to become jaded. But every time I cross in front of those windows, somehow all of my negative energy disappears. I’m sure the wine flowing through my veins tonight also has something to do with it, but suddenly my feet no longer ache, my anxieties about forthcoming travel disappear, and I’m simply immersed in the thoughtful, creative construction looking back at me from behind each glass window.
I like to start at the southmost window on 5th Avenue to see if I can deduce what the theme is without seeing all of them at once. Two mannequins in glittering suits of neon sequins share a glass box with a giant electric blue lollipop. I gasp, “CANDY!” and am instantly excited for what’s in store as I round the corner. A Liza Minnelli-esque mannequin takes a spot behind an art deco chocolate counter, each tiny treat hand-designed; another in black boots laced in white perches atop a gingerbread clock; yet another, in a white feather and rhinestone coat, stares at an giant robot surrounded by ice cream; a Marie Antoinette-style figure features a towering wig of cotton candy; among other feasts for the eyes. With each few steps, a new gasp. The garments that adorn the mannequins in each display are themselves not unlike candy, with their curls of red and white beads, floaty tulle, flashy feathers. Standing in front of these windows, I am a child again. The experience is not unlike seeing the Bergdorf’s catalog that only came at the holidays, in awe of the intricacy and detail and luxury of what’s inside. I’m not just playing Candy Land but living it.
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