Paul Olszewski
Photography by Peter Murphy

It's Christmastime all the time for PAUL OLSZEWSKI, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would awestruck Macy's shoppers during the holidays.


Don’t you just wish it was the holiday season year-round? Not the parts that send you rushing to the medicine cabinet for a headache remedy, mind you. Or finding a parking spot at the mall, securing that impossible-to-get toy of the moment for ­little Johnny or receiving a sweater that no human should be forced to wear. Rather, the wondrous elements that get eyes dancing and hearts leaping. Paul Olszewski has a job like that. For him, this year’s holiday season began just after last year’s, and next year’s will follow suit, and so on. Of course, as director of windows and interior flagship marketing for Macy’s, he has other duties, too, that involve the latest fashions and window displays for stores throughout the chain. But when it comes to creating masterpieces for Macy’s store windows during the holidays — in particular, the famous Herald Square displays in New York City — he is St. Nick, your favorite uncle and Leonardo da Vinci rolled into one.

“All things lead to the Christmas windows,” says Olszewski, who came to Macy’s about eight years ago after similar gigs at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. “They are the most-talked-about, and people come from all over the world to New York City and go window-shopping, and seeing the Christmas windows — it’s something high on their list of things to do during the holidays. They are probably the most important windows we do all year — not to take anything away from all the fashion windows we do all year.”

A Christmas tree covered in tinsel. A Santa mannequin. Maybe an elf or two and a cute dog with a yuletide hat. A smiling reindeer. While that scene might be pleasant to some, it is probably Olszewski’s failure nightmare.

His bailiwick involves state-of-the-art technology, animation, puppetry and interactive displays; the kind of wizardry and gadgetry that knows no bounds other than the end of a generous budget and which comes about with the assistance of production companies, artists, costume designers — even wig and makeup people for the characters. His are not the windows of a store in Bedford Falls or even the Macy’s windows depicted in the 1947 heartwarmer Miracle on 34th Street, one of the windows’ many Hollywood cameos. He’s a showoff, basically, but in a good way. It’s hard not to like him, given the number of smiles he puts on amazed faces.