“Designing Windows is an Art”

Erin O'Brien

Erin O’Brien

What is it like to be a freelance window designer at famed department store, Bergdorf Goodman? What is it like to have your heart in New York City but to have found your fashion inspiration in London? What are the consequences of leaving home at age 17? Erin O’Brien knows the answers to these compelling questions because they make the story of her life and journey. Here is Erin, one-of-a-kind style originator, sharing it with us …

I was always interested in fashion but it wasn’t until I traveled to London when I was young, that I found my true fashion sense. At 13-14 I visited my family in Ireland; while there, I begged them to take me to London. Being in London affected me enormously; the edgy style, the music influencers – I felt myself being drawn in to it all and that has stayed with me to this day …

Being a window dresser is not as glamorous as you might think. It’s a lot of grunt work and hard labor. I have been working with Bergdorf Goodman as a freelance window designer since 1997. I work on the windows at Holiday and for special windows throughout the year. For creating the Christmas windows, the process is year-long and begins as soon as Christmas is over. This Holiday, I helped install and style the window on 58th Street – a “Bird’s Eye View” of a dog maze – highlighting the most wanted luxury handbags. I selected the handbags for the window, and I also decorated and installed the Holiday Shop on the 7th floor of Bergdorf’s …

I am a prop stylist, window designer, and prop master; my passion is working with props and designing windows (rather than work with people as a fashion stylist). The essence of window designing is to keep people looking. Windows have to be eye-catching but you have to do more than have people look; they have to keep looking so much that they are willing to enter the store. This is where most windows fall short – when they don’t enter the store. Designing windows is an art; looking at a well-designed window is like looking at a piece of artwork …

I get my inspiration from thrift shops, 99 cent stores, music videos, bodegas, the subway,  and on the streets of New York. Everything serves as inspiration  – you can travel anywhere in the world and find something of interest that inspires a window display of any theme …

My personal style is edgy, and I like to take risks – but not for anyone but myself. I am not interested in dressing for anyone but myself.  After many years as a redhead, I went blond recently. Much of what inspired me as a 13-year old visiting London, is still very much a part of me. It really did affect me …

I left home when I was 17. It has made me tough, yes. But I am most tough on myself. When I am working on a window, I cannot leave it until it is perfect. That means walking in and out, and in and out, to check every angle of the window and every placement of every piece. There is no way that I can leave until it is 110% perfect. I will never go half-way! …

Most recently, Erin was a part of the team on a show called Window Warriors on GSN Network. You can see Erin’s work on the show, and if you happen to be in NYC this holiday check out her window work at Bergdorf Goodman! Find Erin at her website!

All photos courtesy of Erin O’Brienscreen-shot-2016-12-09-at-12-54-06-pm katie-nolan-coverimg_0237-1

Your thoughts?

I love comments. Feel free to share yours

Leave a Reply