In New York, there are several long-held traditions that signal the arrival of the holidays: the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, the start of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet, and the unveiling of Saks Fifth Avenue’s holiday display, which extends beyond the windows and up to the top of the department store’s block-long Fifth Avenue facade. The latter occurred last night, and for all those who attended (or streamed the proceedings), it was an event that made clear it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
First, guests of Saks arrived for an in-store cocktail party; in attendance were Saks’s CEO, Marc Metrick; Roopal Patel; and Tracy Margolies, plus friends of Saks like Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Laura Kim, Alexandra O’Neill, Lili Buffett, Nell Diamond, and more. Then, just before 7 p.m., guests took their seats on bleachers stationed opposite the store. Beneath Saks-embroidered blankets, everyone waited for the special show—and its surprise performance. Rolling in on a pink gold cart was Sir Elton John, fresh from the final U.S. stop (Los Angeles) of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. Dressed in red track pants, a teal blazer, and his signature specs, the superstar took his seat at his piano, which had been wheeled out directly onto Fifth Avenue, where traffic was temporarily stopped.
“Saks is proud to support the Elton John AIDS Foundation and partner with Sir Elton John, who shares our passion for self expression through creativity and fashion,” said Metrick, who introduced John to the audience.
John sang “Your Song,” while behind him, the department store ignited in a rainbow light show. But the moment marked more than the start of the holiday season; it was also the start of a partnership between the luxury retailer and the musical icon to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Rocket Fund. Founded in 1992, the foundation supports and provides prevention services, testing, and treatment for those with HIV/AIDS. Last night, Saks announced an incredible $1 million donation.
John had also curated a multi-brand collection of women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, accessories, kids, beauty, and home from Versace, Valentino, Wales Bonner, Jonathan Adler, Jason Wu, Paco Rabanne, and of course, Gucci—who has been dressing John throughout his tour, the proceeds from which will go towards the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Rocket Fund. It was a dazzling showcase and a reminder that, more than anything else, the holidays are about giving.