There's a hint of snow in the chilly air, holiday shoppers are parading the block with one hand on their hats - boxes & bags in the other; and there's an obnoxious holiday tune being projected into the atmosphere (composed by Danny Elfman for Van Cleef & Arpels, which resides just next door to our current location). Yes, it must be that time of year. We're standing in front of Bergdorf Goodman with notable and talented window artist, David Hoey (who humorously tells us that the tune composed by Elfman is indeed NOT being emitted from Bergdorf Goodman). A true visionary, Hoey has been responsible for producing and maintaining the works of art that display on the corner of 5th & 58th for more than a decade. When it came time for us to tour the annual spectacle, we thought it sensible to catch up with the only man who could possibly turn a day of actual shopping, into window shopping. [Photograph: David Hoey stands in front of Bergdorf Goodman, Style Republic Magazine.com]
Almost immediately after stepping outside with Hoey, it is evident that he sees the multiple window displays differently than the average passerby. For example, prior to meeting with Hoey, we notice plenty of details - interesting gadgets, golden trim, sequins, feathers, designer duds, and stories that couldn't possibly be told in one sitting.
"I have stacks of inspiration," he tells us. "Sometimes we look at them, and sometimes we don't look at them at all. We're in the business of coming up with ideas - we see something, we remember it."
After we point out our favorite odds and ends, Hoey proceeds to point out more than what can be seen - hidden corners, Swarovski crystals, various hints of theatrical inspiration, Latin expressions placed strategically (and often humorously) throughout each hand-painted backdrop... The list is endless. The artist (clearly familiar with the ins and outs of his masterpiece) also explains that it often takes years to collect the artifacts that go into bringing the full picture to a finish - and they come from just about everywhere.
ABOVE: Watch David Hoey & his team construct the infamous holiday windows.
"I actually got this on e-Bay!" He laughs, pointing to a near ancient looking speedometer - one of the many objects used to create a scene in which a dated automobile is just moments away from taking flight.
"What really helps us with the holiday windows, is being able to base them around a theme." Hoey adds.
This time? The theme is, 'travel'. Maps, exotic destinations, places in time, and various means of transportation consume each display. The characters in these stories are Day Tripping on the moon; taking The Scenic Route, and passing through a number of memorable decades.
Looking at all of the detail that's put into each display, our biggest inquiry is probably the most popular: How long does it take? "We shut down the Bergdorf Goodman windows for two weeks," Hoey tells us. "But it takes an entire year to create the displays."
A few times during our interview with Hoey, he pauses; closing in on a particular display, he thinks to himself out loud, "Just saw a little problem here..." Even after the windows are completed, Hoey and his team often go in to fix a minor nuisance to suit their preferences. For example: Perhaps an object should be more visible, or a shade of paint should be darker?
In our humble opinion, the holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman are practically perfect in every way. Mannequins boast designer garments which, fabulously enough, suit each and every fantastical adventure they're placed into. Each visual phenomenon takes viewers to another place - another time, all while standing on the corner of 5th Avenue and 58th street.*