A.K. Rikk's Holiday Window 2023

A.K. Rikk's Holiday Window 2023

Merrymaking. We know a little something about it. That’s why it’s no surprise that this season’s holiday window is a scene straight from the Moulin Rouge, a place of fantasies where those who enter can fulfill their desires. It’s the same train of thought at A.K. Rikk’s where during the holidays our guests are treated to seasonal nostalgia, luxurious gifts and the kind of magic that only lives in special, hallowed retail spaces. 

It’s why you can visit Santa and whisper in his ear the one thing you want. It’s where the trees are sparkling and decorated and reach the ceiling. It’s here when you have to stop counting wreaths, faux gifs, colorful ornaments and twinkling lights lest you get dizzy. It’s because the holiday window literally has you outside looking in, making what’s behind the glass a tourist attraction. At A.K. Rikk’s, we’re in the business of making festive fascinations so it’s important to work with professionals (not Santa’s elves but darn close). 

With more than 40 years of dressing windows, Chris Laris steerheads the store’s creative vision for the holiday window. Each year he’s entrusted with the job of helping us rediscover the joy of the holidays through a new lens, adding a twist to a timeless tale. Besides, both the Moulin Rouge and A.K. Rikk’s often have the same aesthetic. Both spots are places loved and frequented by the tastemakers of the town and there’s been a lot of champagne evenings. 

It’s also Laris’s favorite movie. It’s visually stimulating and from the sets to the costumes, it’s a siren call to the senses. While a little bawdy, it’s a place where you come to feel alive, discard your cares and live a little. 

“I always try to pull from something that’s not traditionally holiday related but make it holiday. I wondered what Moulin Rouge would look like during the holidays,” said Laris as he envisions the tired can-can girls and the die hard party girls. More so, what would they be wearing? 

Apparently, this season, the answer is Pamella Roland. To the far right of the window appears a golden girl, meticulously lit up–a beautiful beacon in cascading sequins. Laris plays with lighting, making the rest of the scene subdued except for the dancer in Pamella Roland. For her, he’s created a trick of the eye utilizing a subtle spotlight using a different bulb wattage so she’s forever illuminated in her own limelight. The pale gold gown stands out, calling you forward. 

“I intentionally made the rest of the scene darker and mysterious. Christmas windows tend to be over the top and a lot of times they have an element of not making sense. It’s making people stop, look and wonder instead of walking right by,” said Laris who starts his window vision around spring and summer where he’s sourcing the right talent in the form of a mannequin from Detroit down to the cafe chairs, glitzy outfits and how to properly execute a girl endlessly suspended on a garland swing. 

Laris’s favorite touch, an Easter egg over the years, has been the addition of Jake the prop dog. This year he dons the quintessential striped shirt and red beret, a charming companion in full awe of the cabaret spectacle. He looks up at the ladies in admiration, knowing how hard it is to put on a show, quietly speaking for Laris as another year and one more window comes to fruition. “He does a cameo quite often,” says Laris. “He’s my signature, my stamp on the window.” 

Creating a world and a scene in a front window that’s 16 feet long and only 33 inches deep is a challenge (especially when crowded with mannequins and tableau vivant) but it’s one that Laris is constantly up for as he’s been in the business since 1978 starting in Chicago, then making his way to Grand Rapids via a number of retail icons including Chas A. Stevens, Marshall Field’s, Lord & Taylor, Gantos, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. 

With decades of windowscaping under his belt, it’s no wonder some of his work has graced the pages of Visual Merchandising and Store Design Magazine. From the unexpected and offbeat dinosaurs in Christmas tree lots to almost thirty vintage tin dollhouses dotting across a rolling picturesque countryside depicting a classic Americana Christmas, the A.K. Rikk’s window is a playground where we catch your eye, your imagination and your heart. 

It all goes back to theatrics and never more so than at Christmastime where the changing of the shop windows announce the arrival of magical times. It’s a free show that anyone can enjoy and a pause from reality into a world of fanciful seductions. It’s how we communicate and kick-off our shared experiences for the enchantment and wonder at the end of the year. It’s our gift to you, our holiday tale to tell because beyond smoke and mirrors, it’s built on dreams and desires.

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