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NYC Holiday Windows Tournament Round Four: Macy's vs. Fifth Avenue Association

By
Adam Goldman
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Holiday window displays are a staple of the season in New York. But you're busy buying presents, seeing the sights, sampling our many exquisite hot chocolates. What's to be done? Luckily we've got you covered: we've scoped out all the major players and we're gonna tell you which holiday window display you simply can't miss. With brackets! Buckle up, it's about to get festive.

Two displays enter, one display leaves. Who's it gonna be?

Macy's

Courtesy Macy's/Bill Waldorf

Courtesy Macy's/Bill Waldorf

Courtesy Macy's/Bill Waldorf

Courtesy Macy's/Bill Waldorf

Holiday Cheer

B+. Macy's goes pretty hard for the holidays, and while I appreciate the effort, the fact remains that their whole schtick is exclusively about Christmas. Which is fine! But that just doesn't resonate with everyone, and I have to deduct some points for including not even a gesture toward the fact that there are other things to celebrate in December.

Spectacle
A. Credit where it's due, these windows are fab, decked out in neon and chrome and fiddling with perspective in cool ways. Some of them are even interactive, an impressive touch.
Concept
B-. As detailed at length on the Macy's website, this window spread tells the story of "Santa Girl," a young New Yorker who becomes obsessed with Santa after the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, imagining herself as the jolly fat man and toying with the idea of stealing his identity, Talented Mr. Ripley-style. OK maybe not that last bit but the whole Santa Girl thing is confusing and a little incoherent. I'm not expecting Tony Kushner here, but if you're going to spin out a narrative for your windows, give me something to work with.
Execution
A. I can't knock an interactive holiday window [even if it is flu season and the idea of putting my hands on a steering wheel that has been handled by maybe five thousand children is enough to have me reaching for the vitamin C]. Macy's has been in the game for a long time, and they know what they're doing.
Overall: A-

Fifth Avenue Association 

Fifth Avenue Association—which sounds like a German punk band—shows up to the holiday party with a simple idea executed well. I dig it!

Time Out/Ali Garber

Time Out/Ali Garber

Time Out/Ali Garber

Holiday Cheer
B+. It's all about the gingerbread version of New York for me. Yum.
Spectacle
B. I love the way the city-at-night window looks like a theatrical set. The all-white version looks weirdly unfinished, although I appreciate the idea. This isn't the flashiest display of the bunch, but do they all need to be? No.
Concept
B+. Look at them! They're little elves enjoying the park! Yes, the scale here sometimes implies that the elves are huge, terrifying, building-sized holiday monsters but honestly? That would be fine with me too.
Execution
A-. I respect a simple idea executed properly. Fifth Avenue Association's windows aren't destined to be the holiday destination, but they're a charming addition to the city's rich tapestry of options, and for that, I salute them.
Overall: B

Winner: Macy's

You can't mess with a classic, and it doesn't get more classic than Macy's when it comes to holiday window displays. They're the OG. I get the sense that these two competitors were playing fundamentally different games, but at the end of the day we have to choose a winner, and in this match-up Macy's takes the cake. Er, gingerbread. Cookie. You know what I mean.

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