Thursday, April 7, 2016


We're into the fourth and final season of Selfridges on PBS taking us on the journey of building and then destroying London's first and most innovative department store, a department store with Wisconsin connections. But then most things connect through Wisconsin like progressive politics, Modern Family and Liberace. Harry Selfridge, a born Wisconsinite, was a self-made man who somehow was able to pull himself up to become one of the most successful retail entrepreneurs in the world. He did it through imaginative branding, knowing his audience and customer, and incredible hutzpah.
In London he brought retail to the masses making shopping into social entertainment, providing a way for the homebound women of England to get out and away from the home to a safe, respectable place where they could meet, browse and then buy what they didn't know they needed before they walked through those ornate brass doors under the Queen of Time.
The tradition was much the same in America with it's major stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Fields and of course Macy's. Macy's has always been a leader in branding and promotion with their special events and involvement in the Thanksgiving Parade and the Fourth of July Fireworks. Another example of Macy's innovative marketing is their annual spring flower show where the main floor is turned into a themed garden and the windows on Broadway are made into dioramas embellishing that year's theme.
This year, and perhaps because it's an election year, the theme is America the Beautiful. The windows on Broadway provide a walk from coast to coast through the flora of the United States.
Beginning at the Sixth Avenue end of Broadway you move from west to east starting in the Pacific Northwest and traversing the continent to the Shinning Northeast Shores
and everything in between
with an exclamation point put on the City (that being New York). Notably absent is Hawaii, I assume disqualified since they are definitely Hall of Fame floral inductees and no longer eligible for representation.
Inside the entrance of their flagship store is a huge replica of the torch on the Statue of Liberty ablaze with golden blooms studded with touches of red. I was never very strong in high school botany and as Rick will attest I'm a reluctant gardener at best. I'm a magnet for Mayflies and every spring end up with huge welts making me look like a severe burn victim. It does not make me look fondly to a trip to the nursery to purchase this year's carload of annuals and perennials or memorizing their proper names. Those Latin labels for all the plant life on display is not my forte but I'll do my best to infuse their generic names into my descriptions wherever possible. Please forgive me in advance if I end up calling a petunia a periwinkle or a hydrangea a big blue flower.
At the New York Macy's flagship store the aisles on the main floor are decked out with a canopy of pink flowering trees in planters filled with succulents, birds of paradise and orchids. All of which provide a temptation to touch too hard to resist for toddlers being pushed in their strollers right at the perfect height for picking.
Hanging above the aisles are more banners with the art for each region along with vignettes representing parts of our great and distinct flora and fauna history.
The Golden Gate Bridge spans the escalator bank leading up to the next level. Vinca vines cascade over the edge of the bridge while fir trees soar to the ceiling and lilies drop their intense scent over anyone traveling below.
In the Northeast a lighthouse spreads its beam over a ground cover of local grasses and magenta anemone.
An elevated garden of succulents and cacti from the Southwest are suspended over the cosmetic booths that populate the main floor.
Suspended from the mezzanine on the 34th Street side is a perfect New Orleans iron balcony with all its potted boxes arranged with topiary and fragrant bouganvilleas.
Every day for the duration of the show a prominent floral designer is brought in to create the "Bouquet of the Day". On the day I was there Yena Jung had been given the opportunity to create the centerpiece.
I'm more of the opinion she built a monument to the orchid as I'd find it hard to place this bouquet in the center of any dining experience I'd host.
Making the journey to Macy's to enjoy the flower show has become an annual trip for me because I'm a sucker for color, extravagance and design. When I get there I've got no pride. I'll get down on my knees to smell a perfect rose.
I'll sneak an opportunity to touch a display to make sure the flowers are real.
I'll enjoy the blessing I feel at having the opportunity to experience a walk through a florists fantasy and I'll probably be suckered into buying something I had no former intent of purchasing or real need to have.

Queen of the Night, 1998
Cy DeCosse, photographer
Represented by Gallery Two Seventy, Englewood, NJ


  1. That's amazing. I had no idea they did anything like this.

  2. They also do a similar event at some of their other flagship stores Chicago and Minneapolis included