NotebookNovember 1, 2007 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
In the past few years, the holiday season has become an ideal time for luxury labels and packaged goods companies to reach out and host shoppers in Manhattan unlike they do in any other city in the world. It's not unusual for some to sponsor music and entertainment events at public markets or transportation centers. For others, their brand comes to life with a novel take on gift-giving or good cheer at landmark buildings. In the beauty and haircare industries, product sampling and quick makeovers are frequently offered in unexpected places.
Here, we take a look at spectacular public spaces and their signature holiday stories:
Rockefeller Center With more than 19 buildings covering 11 acres, this is one of the best holiday stops, with a mix of specialty stores and a famous skating rink. It's also the home of NBC's Today show. The first Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center dates back to 1933, making this the 75th year the nearly 90-foot tree has made an appearance. Since 2004, renowned crystal-maker Swarovski has created a one-of-a-kind star tree topper, as well as a special shopping kiosk with signature collectibles. This area has even become home to some of the best "pop-up" temporary stores—perfect for coveted gifts—from retailers like Japan-based Uniqlo, which sold popular-priced colorful cashmere in 2006.
Union Square at 14 th Street The Holiday Market boasts a series of outdoor shops inside red and green tents. More than 100 artisans and entrepreneurs stock handmade gifts, accessories and treats; art, sculptures and candles; fashion novelties from T-shirts to turtlenecks; and toys for kids and pets.
Bryant Park at 42 nd Street This historic park came to new urban life in the '90s and today includes restaurants and food kiosks set amidst the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain and the New York Public Library. In past holiday seasons, the central lawn has been home to holiday decor, shops and seasonal music programs. bryantpark.org
South Street Seaport and Pier 17 Located along the East River, this maritime setting boasts several streets with entertainment, including performance artists daily, and more than 100 shops and restaurants. During the holiday season, choral groups and Santa Claus have made appearances. southstreetseaport.com
Coming to America
What happens when you're at the top of your game on your own turf yet still hanker for greener pastures? Jenny Balding and Dean Holcombe up and moved.
When she was 18, Jenny Balding visited New York City "on holiday" and knew at once that she'd live there one day. "People thought it was a massive pipe dream," says the Glasgow, Scotland, native, who worked for the legendary Rita Rusk for eight years before deciding to relocate. "I learned a lot from Rita. She has her own training academy, and she had me teaching classes there when I was only 19," says Balding. "She's famous for throwing you into the deep end, so to speak." Balding gave Rusk a full year's notice, then came to Manhattan for one week to visit the top salons in the city. When nothing clicked, she went back to Scotland where she met her now husband, Patrick Daly. It was his idea for both of them to come back to the United States together. "He owned an Internet company at the time," says Balding, "but he sold it to come here with me."