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Racked Recap 2008: The Best Windows

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With only a few days left in 2008, it's time to look back at a year of dizzying highs and crushing lows, of one major economic collapse and many minor shopping frenzies. Folks, it's the annual (two years running!) Racked Recap. This week, we'll be reliving our biggest and brightest (and saddest and darkest) moments, from the Top Five Pop-Up Shops to the Worst Windows. Take a deep breath of the sweet, sweet nostalgia.

This was a tough one, going from the worst windows to sorting through hundreds of standout storefronts and narrowing it down to the Top Five Best Windows of 2008. Although we are all well-aware that this is not a city of bland presentations, those that went overkill on luxury are not necessarily the most interesting. Thus, consideration focused heavily on inspiration and creativity; after all, the purpose of window displays are to distract you into a happy shopping mood.

5.) Moschino's Mischief: Straying from the usual mannequins-in-nice-outfits window formula, Moschino has instead used half of their windows on West 14th Street to create imaginative tableaux vivants. Beginning in late summer with an astronaut greeting a well-dressed alien, then entering fall with a sweatshop of baby chicks and now heralding the holidays with a thieving bunch of Christmas characters, we are continuously delighted with Moschino's creativity.

4.) Marc Jacobs' Friendly Spring Skunk: Literal snapshots of March 2008 on Bleecker Street will be forever archived somewhere in Marc Jacobs' storage locker. It was during this time that his Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique hosted a hipster dressed a skunk who spent the days posing with tourists and locals alike. Interactive windows are always a hit, but this one gets major credit for then covering the store in the images, like some kind of West Village cultural anthropology project.

3.) A Very Barneys Christmas: Thanks to our backstage pass to the creation and execution of the famed windows, every nook and cranny of their hippy theme was exposed to critique. An added highlight was scoring major face time with Simon Doonan.

2.) Bergdorf Salutes Bill Cunningham: Touching at the same time as it was extremely self-referential, Bergdorf's massive windows devoted to NYT Sunday Styles photographer Bill Cunningham (who regularly shoots subjects on their corner) featured the star pieces of fall collections in a truly New York setting.

1.) Obamania around the city: Saluting a theme more than a single display, we chose election windows as the best of 2008. All throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, at boutiques like Buckler and institutions like Henri Bendel, support for Obama brought out creativity and positivity in retail despite the economic downturn. For a moment, stores laid down the "sell! sell! sell!" philosophy and embraced community.

Bergdorf Goodman

754 5th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 753-7300 Visit Website

Henri Bendel

712 5th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 247-1100 Visit Website