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VM SHOWCASE: Saks Fifth Ave Toronto

It’s no secret that here at VM Daily we’re huge fans of the flagship visual merchandising team from Saks Fifth Avenue Toronto. From fantastical candy lands to circus scapes and glam grunge, their  beyond-creative, always unexpected displays never cease to turn heads (or make us wonder – how the hell’d they come up with that?). Window Supervisor Brandy Mahaney walks us through some of her team’s favorite creations.


One of the most amazing things about Saks Fifth Avenue is that you have a lot of freedom to create artful displays.  The company culture is one of supporting and encouraging their visual team to constantly challenge themselves to produce truly engaging and exciting art installations using the worlds most luxurious brands as inspiration. Here are a few of our favorites from our first year at Saks Toronto.


Land of 1000 Delights
These were the first windows we did that were designed corporately, which had its challenges as we were building something we had never seen before and weren’t sure what it would look like when done.  The plexi-glass panels and hand-made artist-commissioned candy garlands were constructed by Urban Holiday, a visual production company based in New York. The costumes were designed by Michael Southgate. This concept proved to be one of our most successful, as Toronto Life voted us as having the best holiday windows of 2016.



Festival Girl


Some weeks before this concept we had purchased several rolls of colour corrugated cardboard with no real plan what to do with it, we knew only something sculptural.  When the Festival Girl trend came up, which was based on an elevated ‘Coachella vibe’, I decided to create thin long tubes with the corrugated cardboard and drip different colours of acrylic paint down the grooves.  We then attached them in the shape of a sound-wave and suspended them accessorizing the girls with musical instruments to drive the theme home.


Egg-cited for Fall
This was a pretty silly set of windows based on an art installation done by Christopher Chiappa, where he filled the Kate Werble gallery in New York with 7,000 fried egg sculptures.  We made our 500 eggs from white glue and yellow foam, it took us about a week to prepare them.  Not every window installation has to mean something.  It was so fun to stand along the street and listen to the feedback of people walking by, some loved it, some didn’t get it, but they all had a reaction!


Cirque du Soleil had reached out to our marketing department wanting to do a collaboration with us that would highlight their new show currently playing in the city.  The conceptual approach was a back and forth process of drawing up multiple sketches, pricing out the cost of digital production of materials and getting approval from both Cirque and Saks to ensure both parties were correctly represented.  We were lucky to receive costumes directly from the show for the windows and had performers and a prominent make-up artist from the show doing in-store demonstrations.
Glam Grunge
Marlon created this installation based on the featured fashion trend that month, Glam Grunge.  He handmade the mohawks from cardboard and foam-core, painting them a gothic black, and sculpted the crown using a heavy gauge oiled black wire.  So many customers and associates wanted to buy that crown!
Glam Grunge


Valentine’s Day
Whenever you have multiple windows along one street its great because you can do different takes on one idea.  I usually do a statement window, a product-based window, and  1 or 2 humourous/situational windows.  We were corporately provided with the white boards and 1/2 arrows shown here, as well as 40 loose arrows.  We produced all vinyl in-house.
Meet the Team