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New York Shifts Its Thinking and Reopens Elementary Schools

Vanessa Friedman, The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic, writes:

It was just a little over a month ago that President Trump declared that New York City was a “ghost town,” that it was “dying” and that “everyone is leaving.” His statement — and the sentiment it reflects — provoked a social media storm of urban jingoism, rippling out in an even more visible, if unexpected, place: the holiday windows of our remaining department stores.

Once upon a time vehicles for entertainment, they suddenly resemble nothing so much as statements of belief. They are a “light,” said Tony Spring, the chief executive of Bloomingdale’s, at “the end of a very difficult year.”

Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion director (and its former head of windows), agreed. “We believed it was more important than ever to stay our course this year,” she said.

In this, there are parallels with the holiday seasons after both Sept. 11 and the Great Recession of 2008, when dire predictions of New York’s demise filled the air, said Marc Metrick, the chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue.

The windows are reminders, he said, “of the greatness of this city,” hence Saks’s decision to focus deliberately on New York-specific scenarios. The idea that Christmas windows could be canceled was never a possibility, he said.

[Read more about the displays.]

Saks has six vignettes in the six vitrines facing Fifth Avenue depicting “How we celebrate now,” including houses strung with holiday lights and other decorations in Dyker Heights; a family coming home with presents on the Roosevelt Island tram; and a food truck parked outside an apartment building for a virus-safe dinner party. Also, a light show created with 600,000 bulbs on the facade can be seen up and down the avenue.

The Bergdorf Goodman windows are designed to be read even from across the street. Nine color-blocked vitrines, each celebrating a “core value” such as “love,” “harmony,” “equality” and so on, are rendered in towering three-dimensional letters and backed by fractured mirror so they gleam like giant faceted jewels.

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