Students help design, dress holiday windows at Macy’s

By Olivia Deloian, Staff Reporter

Steven Nunez
“Visual Merchandising I: Macy’s” is a course offered in fall and spring that allows students to put together their own window displays showcasing fashion.

Macy’s holiday windows are back, and eager Chicagoans are heading to the department store to see them in all their seasonal glory, along with chic mannequins sporting high fashion brands. A course allows Columbia students  to help create the classic window scenes Chicagoans stop to see.

“Visual Merchandising I: Macy’s” is a class offered to fashion students in both the fall and spring semesters. In this class, students have the opportunity to design window displays that showcase fashion from Macy’s, 111 N. State St. 

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Luise Ebeling heard about the class her freshman year and was eager to take it herself.

“It’s great. It’s different from what I expected. I expected it to be more of like, ‘Help us with putting up windows,’ but it’s much more than that,” Ebeling said. “It’s a very hands-on course.”

Ebeling said the course is taught by two instructors, Kim Garner and Jeffrey Maehl, adjunct professors in the Fashion Studies Department. Most classes are focused on implementing what has been taught from the textbook and working together to practice design, Ebeling said. The course also teaches students how to dress mannequins and put the displays together.

Garner and Maehl did not respond to requests for an interview as of press time. 

Ebeling said on Dec. 4, the class was divided into groups, each designing their own display. In prior courses, they had workshops on how to dress the mannequins, she said.

“I feel like [the window is] my little baby,” Ebeling said. “Taking the course, it kind of makes you look more to windows, and you’re like, ‘I could do this,’ or ‘I would tweak this or tweak that.’”

Fashion Studies Department Chair Colbey Reid said the course, which has been offered since 2003, is one of the best within the department because it offers students real-world experience.

“We talk a lot in fashion studies about the importance of getting our students out of the classroom and into the city,” Reid said. “It’s an incredibly important part of our program and really [implements] the kind of experience we try to give our students here.”

Mokena, Illinois, resident Cathy Bianchi said she and her friend have visited Chicago to see the windows for at least 15 years.

Bianchi said the visuals of the windows have improved since a few years ago. Regarding students who are able to design displays, Bianchi said she thinks their perspectives are a nice addition and add originality to the windows.

Ebeling said she’s always been interested in the marketing aspect of windows.

“I’ve always liked the idea of catching people’s attention,” Ebeling said. “You have three seconds to catch someone’s attention [with] a window.”

Reid said through the course, students are able to connect to the city. 

“The ancillary benefit of this class isn’t just the connection the students make to the brand, but also to the city that we’re a part of,”  Reid said.