Forget the Rockefeller Center tree lighting as the official holiday lights and décor kick off in the heart of New York City! Saks Fifth Avenue is upstaging the famous looming Norway Spruce—lit the Wednesday after Thanksgiving—with its Monday before Thanksgiving holiday window display unveiling annually. The tony Fifth Avenue retailer kicked it up this year with its partnership with Dior for the “Carousel of Dreams” activation, which marks a first for the retailer’s holiday décor.
The spectacle—which goes beyond just window displays to a massive circular building façade referencing the zodiac signs central to Dior’s women’s offerings since 2017 that lights up nine ways to Sunday—started with a logistics feat of shutting down Fifth Avenue rush hour traffic for approximately 12 minutes so guests such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Alexandra Daddario, Nina Dobrev, Rachel Zegler, Lola Tung, and Ashley Park seated in private bleachers across the street could absorb the event.
Saks CEO Marc Metrick kicked off the events by asking ‘who’s ready’ with the wail of a New York police siren in the background. However, Metrick was enthused about the retailer’s long-term working relationship, noting that the event was the first of its kind.
“This iconic holiday campaign in partnership with Dior is a first and is an honor to work together for over 70 years on this multi-faceted collaboration that will come to life across the entire Saks eco-system from Saks.com to the stunning façade. For decades, we presented our holiday window and light show as our gift to New York City, and this year the gift is even more spectacular than ever before,” he said, also thanking Dior for their ‘creative vision and impeccable design to help us create the most ambitious display in Saks history.’
Next, Delphine Arnault, chairman & CEO Christian Dior Couture, took to the stage to welcome guests. “It is a dream come true to be here with you in the middle of Fifth Avenue to celebrate this stunning collaboration, which will write another page in the history of Dior and Saks as long-standing partners,” Arnault said with delight, adding, “It’s a wonderful tribute to the dreams and magic of the holiday season and shows the creativity the joyfulness and savoir-faire of Dior. Our teams have worked with passion around the clock for over a year on this unprecedented project, creating this unique façade and 24 windows celebrating the magic of Dior.” She thanked Maria Grazie Chiuri, Women’s Ready-to-Wear, Haute Couture and Accessories Creative Director, for designing the costumes for Martha Graham Dance Company worn for a performance as part of the unveiling.
Dior ambassador Jennifer Lawrence up next gave the performance of the evening, though. As she took the microphone to say, “Thank you,” she exclaimed, covered her mouth, and continued saying, “Oh my, that was so loud my belt popped off,” which had the crowd in stitches.
After the actress noted it looked like the ‘perfect place to celebrate the holidays,’ she said, “Let’s light up the night.” Metrick and Arnault joined Lawrence with a three, two, one countdown. After a slight delay, the music rose, dancers emerged from the store, the window coverings lifted, and the giant zodiac sign, symbol, and floral-laden bedecked light show slash façade. The graceful yet dynamic performance featured male and female dancers in flowing, sheer navy costumes. It gave it a distinctly French celebration vibe despite the American roots of the dance troupe. Rockettes, these were not; nor were they Elton John, who did a ‘final’ performance at the event last year. Fireworks topped off the display for added emphasis despite disturbing New York’s maligned pigeon community.
Within 15 minutes, the event culminated, and New York finest were busy shuffling selfie-taking guests out of the middle of the active thoroughfare set to reopen and onto the sidewalk. As pedestrians also began to filter onto the sidewalk in front, guests of the event took refuge from the crowds inside at a cocktail event in the New York outpost of L’ Avenue inside the store.
Inside, Metrick spoke to FashionNetwork.com, gladly accepting the role of kicking off the holiday spirit on Fifth Avenue. “Of course, we kick it off! People are celebrating the day after Halloween these days,” he enthused, adding, “We like to be an inspiration to people and their lifestyle; that is what we stand for. Saks doesn’t just sell things; we want to be part of their lives, and this is how you do it.”
He attributed its success to a lot of collaboration in the year in its making. “I don’t know who asked who first, but they are a big partner, and you can’t go wrong with them for something like this,” he said of the Dior-centric New York to Paris-themed displays. It also gave the executive bragging rights to note that the exclusive collection is only online at Saks. “It’s on Saks.com, which is a big deal because they are not online anywhere else in the world.” Typically retailers besides Dior.com only carry sunglass and beauty items from Dior online.
While it was a night for the retailer to fly high, the next day brought an article reported by BoF asserting that the retailer had been plagued with non-payment allegations from several vendors, stating that eventually, they were paid. CEO Richard Baker of Hudson Bay Company, Saks’ parent company, told WWD the day before that it had raised $340 million by leveraging its real estate holdings to help bolster Saks’ growth. Welcome news: While the Dior tie-up will keep the lights on Fifth Avenue glowing until January 5th, 2024, the cash infusion will guarantee keeping the lights on well into 2024, when the retailer celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Copyright © 2023 FashionNetwork.com All rights reserved.