Some women like wow factor Christmas displays. Some prefer old-fashioned sheep in a department store window. From Paris to London, though, grandmothers and grandchildren (and a few hipster fashionistas) are queuing up to see the best of Christmas. All too soon, the January sales will be upon us, and the windows will be full of 50% off signs and men on stepladders. So go now, if you can…
A VERY KARL CHRISTMAS IN PARIS
When the real Karl Lagerfeld turned up to launch dozens of tiny Karls, in the celebrated windows of Printemps department store, there was a mob. Or were the fans there for his escort Vanessa Paradis, in the hope of also seeing Monsieur Johnny Depp?
Children who have no idea what the interlinked double C symbols mean, were everywhere (standing on child-sized wooden viewing platforms). And by now every junior Chanel fan in France must have been photographed with her/his nose pressed against the glass.
Wet nose marks cannot take away the glamour and serious camp of seeing Tiny Karl touring the world, though – or Tiniest Karl of All, photographing fashionistas with his puppet camera gear. These windows will ruin you for (almost) anything else for any Christmas to come, unless….Most useful Metro station: L’Opera
THE ROCK CHICK CHRISTMAS AT GALERIES LAFAYETTE
Next to Printemps, Galeries Lafeyette has a fabulously chaotic display dedicated to rock chicks everywhere. So what, exactly does this have to do with Christmas? Absolutely nothing (well, as much as Karl Lagerfeld in an aeroplane has to do with it). The thrill factor of these windows is pretty high, though, and it’s nice to see Donna Summer lookalike puppets in small backstage sets.
What is it about puppets and their swinging feet? There’s just something about those meticulously crafted lace-up Converse sneakers that’s hard to resist at the Lafayette windows. Not to mention the tour bus, complete with rock stars in various stages of excess hanging out of the windows. Next door to Printemps.
THERE’S NO OTHER SHEEP LIKE A DAVID JONES SHEEP
David Jones has turned Christmas over to carols, for December 2011, which might account for the copious amounts of sheep and shepherds cramming the street. In an age when so many people are frightened of the Christian tradition, though, it’s wonderful to see an old-school nativity scene, with beautifully crafted mice climbing up ladders, while Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus shine on, at the crib. Nearest station: Museum.
ST MARY’S CATHEDRAL – THE LIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS
Could this be the biggest wow factor Christmas display in the world? St Mary’s Cathedral has become a backdrop for exploding flowers, psychedelic lights and fluttering doves this December. There’s something very Sixties about the result, but it’s hard to look away. Just as you’re becoming used to the idea of a hot pink cathedral spelling the word ‘Love’, along comes a bright purple and yellow light show, which looks more dance party than Vatican. The miracle at St Mary’s this year is well worth travelling into the city for, though, in the middle of the night. Cross Hyde Park to see it. Nearest station: Museum.
Music: Airborn by Kolliope, Foghorn Records.