This is the time of year when curmudgeons like me moan about how things aren’t like they use to be – how Christmas was less commercial and things were simpler when we were young. I found myself thinking that in November while regarding the Christmas lights on Regent Street. As well as celebrating Christmastide – sort of – they also rang bells for a soon to be released animated movie based on my beloved Mr Peabody, but let’s not go there. A walk past the windows at Selfridge’s would lead one to think that Christmas was about high-end perfumes and designer dish towels. And Harrod’s? Well what can be said about that parody of a once great emporium that is now the Disneyland of department stores. Though we didn’t get a chance to stroll down Piccadilly I understand from a video (click here) that Fortnum and Mason eschewed last year’s highly commercial salute to a theatrical chain’s Panto mixed in with their fine food stuffs to once again display a little nostalgic animation in their windows. Mind you their fine products are still very much on display but its things like Christmas pud, crackers and the like.
Now Madrid is, or at least was, a different story. The light displays there are created by well-known designers and reflect all sorts of styles and creativity. Unfortunately we were only there for a few hours to change trains during daylight hours but did get a chance to get downtown. And I hate to say it but LNB and myself both gave into the crass commercialism that appeared to represent Christmas at El Cortes Inglés in Madrid. After a wonderful lunch at De Maria we strolled over to the main store at Puerta del Sol and stopped off at their Christmas shop – hoping to, despite a vow of abstinence, find a Christmas ornament that cried “Spain”. Well we found lots that smirked “China” but nothing that you couldn’t find most other places.
|Sadly there was nothing at El Cortes Inglés that couldn’t be found at any department story anywhere in the world. We had been hoping to find something that would remind us of our times in Spain but …….|
By the time we hit the third floor of their six story Christmas store we were right smack in the middle of commercial Christmas with a capital C. So if you can’t fight ’em!
|Laurent seems to have this, dare I say “unhealthy”, obsession with mice. And keep in mind this is
the man who will not take me to Disney World. But he’ll cavort with El Ratón Mickey in Madrid.
|Even Sidd bought into the commercialism – these straight gnomes! And Cinderella was just his sort of girl – plastic!|
|Apparently Sulley (James P. Sullivan) got over his fear of the toxic touch of humans
or it may have just been Sidd’s calming presence.
|Sorry but Spidey was getting just a little too up-close and personal!|
And of course being selective in applying my curmudginliness I am truly delighted by the wonderful display that graces Henri Bendel‘s window in their New York flagship store. Okay Al Hirschfeld may not have much to do with Christmas but his marvelous creations are cause for some sort of seasonal celebration. Someone over at a Broadway musical group I belong to (You belong to a Broadway Musical group, says incredulous reader? Quelle surprise!) discovered that the brilliant caricaturist is lining Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein at his worktable.
A click on the poster heralding the Hirschfeld Spectacular will take you to detailed photographs of the window and the iconic drawings that have been brought to, if not life, life size for the holidays. And the store is decorated with Hirschfeld’s – the originals as well as 3D reproductions. And yes “Nina” is hidden in full view!
Okay maybe this old curmudgeon isn’t entirely against commercialism – I noticed a bit of store promotion in quite a few photos of the old Eaton’s windows that I loved so much. And I guess that’s the whole point of window displays – to get you in and to get you to buy. But I do wish London would rethink those lights! Mr Peabody and Sherman??? And not even the real thing just some cheap Dreamworks imitation! What sort of Christmas celebration is that?
December 29 – 2003: The last known speaker of Akkala Sami dies, rendering the language extinct.