A fawning PR piece by David Kamp in next month's Vanity Fair has appeared online and revealed several details about the Barneys New York store returning to part of its previous home in Chelsea. Most importantly, the store is set to open sometime in February with an inaugural event recreating the "Decorated Denim" auction, one of the first major celebrity driven AIDS benefits staged in 1986 to celebrate the opening of the new Women's store around the corner on 17th Street. It featured Levi's Denim Jackets decorated by artists and designers like Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Paloma Picasso and Jean-Paul Gaultier modeled by Nell Campbell, Peter Allen, Andie MacDowell, Susan Sarandon, Iman and an up-and-coming singer named Madonna. The new version has been upgraded to motorcycle jackets decorated by artists such as Ugo Rondinone, Kim Gordon, Anicka Yi, Lisa Yuskavage, and Glenn Ligon with proceeds benefiting the non-profit art space White Columns as well as The Center, the West Village's LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street.
Possibly, the event will have celebrities descending the new spiral staircase that is being constructed to connect all five shopping levels of the re-imagined store much as they did the original one that still exists in the Rubin Museum of Art inside the former Barneys women's store. An abstract rendering by architect Steven Harris (pictured below) shows a finished version of the main floor shown in the recent photo above. Apparently, the store will have a new design scheme different from the stark marble, steel and glass that current management installed on the main floor of the Madison Avenue flagship. Beyond the rendering, fewer details are available regarding the store's look, but the article does reveal its merchandising scheme which includes Personal Shopping suites on the fourth floor, a men's department and a "younger" edition of the Fred's restaurant on three, Women's apparel on two, Accessories for both men and women on the main floor and, as on Madison Avenue, cosmetics as the staircase's final destination on the lower level including an outpost of the Blind Barber joining its locations in the East Village and Williamsburg. Chelsea nostalgists will not find too much to directly recall the previous Barneys store on the site which comprises only what was once the traditional half of the original men's store. Certainly, that store's exhaustive men's suit department which once covered multiple floors will not be found re-created there, and it's unclear whether or not there will be a tailored clothing offering in the store at all. It is likely to be skewed toward more advanced "downtown" fashion, and the opening will launch with exclusive collections by Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Vêtements and Adidas Y-3 by Yohji Yamamoto created just for the store. Even the familiar canvas awnings will be replaced with what is described as a sculptural stainless steel canopy on the building's redesigned façade. Windows will not be devoted to Simon Doonan's fanciful displays. He has long since been relegated to an "Ambassador" role. Instead, they will feature portraits photographed on New York City streets by Bruce Weber. Regardless of how one feels how the store has been updated as “a modern Barneys for a modern downtown New York,” in the words of CEO Mark Lee, the anticipation for the new store has been extreme, Now, it will only be a few more weeks until we can see it for ourselves.
It's pretty easy to gauge the construction of Barneys' upcoming Chelsea store because they leave the plywood doors open all the time allowing a view inside. For a while, The Shophound has been skeptical that the store could be finished by the "Early Spring" projected date posted on the building, but after peeking in yesterday, we saw that workers had already progressed to installing what appeared to be shelves and other fixtures on the main floor. Of course, we have no idea what the upper floors look like, and they still have to replace the storefront which was demolished earlier this fall. Can they do all of this in the roughly three months before "Early Spring" arrives. A great deal has to do with whether or not merchandise has been ordered to fill the sizable store. If goods are on the way, then they will need to get the store open in a reasonable amount of time to have some full price selling before markdowns start in May and June. The picture above could give us a hint as to exactly how far along things have gotten.
A lot of veteran New York shoppers were delighted last year when it was revealed that Barneys New York would take over part of the original store on Seventh Avenue in Chelsea where it became a retailing legend. Anyone who thought that the old store (pictured below in a 1989 archival photo) would somehow be recreated, however, is in for a surprise. The new Barneys in Chelsea will be doing more extensive remodeling on the space than the intervening tenant, Loehmann's, ever did before moving in.
Were you hoping that those display windows would once again hold some whimsical Holiday displays? Those windows have been blown out along with the rest of the entire street level façade of the building, which we noted a few weeks ago. Yesterday, we spied a flat rendering of the new store's front elevation (pictured above) posted on the plywood covering the construction site which indicates that the dramatic entrance to the previous store is being completely removed in favor of a more innocuous set of glass doors. A stone wall will bear the store's signage, and it appears that most of the rest of the front will be glass. We are guessing that it will offer a view directly into the store rather than serve as display windows, more like the smaller, former Co-op stores in Brooklyn and on the Upper West Side. This will be a disappointment for anyone who had held out hope that Barneys would give a nod to the old Chelsea store by reproducing or at least restoring part of what remained there. Of course, we should know by now that the current executive team has no interest in nostalgia for classic Barneys. In fact, given the opportunity to preserve or tear down anything that would remind shoppers of the original store, they almost always go with tearing down and replacing with slabs of marble and glass. We have become accustomed to this by now, but shopping nostalgists in New York should be prepared for the likelihood that Barneys' grand return to Chelseas may not be quite as grand as they might have been hoping for.
We were all pretty excited to hear that Barneys New York will soon be re-inhabiting the location on Seventh Avenue in Chelsea where it became a world-renowned retailer during the 1980s. If you think, however that the new store will simply slide into its old home with minor renovations, then you don't know Barneys these days. While the exterior of the store has remained relatively intact while construction crews ripped out any trace of the former Lehmann's flagship that took over what was the larger part Barneys' original Men's Store, plywood scaffolding went up a few weeks ago to obscure what looks like a major redesign of the store's façade. The Shophound got a peek inside yesterday afternoon through door left carelessly ajar that shows that the entire ground floor of the store's frontage has been demolished including the grand entrance and the windows that once housed Simon Doonan's infamous Holiday displays. Rumors have the second floor exterior blown out as well, but, so far, that remains to be seen?
What will the new Barneys look like?
Chances are it will have a lot of glass, steel and slabs of marble like its Madison Avenue counterpart, so anyone hoping for a nostalgic feeling when the store finally reopens may have to adjust their expectations.
And about that opening date . . .
About a year ago we heard that the store was pushing it's projected opening forward to January of 2016, and while that was promising news at the time, it seems hard to believe that a new façade could be completed in three months, not to mention that the store's interior space still looks completely gutted.
We may have to cool our heels for just a little bit longer before Barneys once again graces Chelsea with its presence.
Does it feel like there's something missing?
Have the relatively few still fairly decent sample sales going on right now felt like not much of a satisfying offering?
That's because, as far as we can tell, this will be the first the first Labor Day Weekend that there is no Barneys Warehouse Sale somewhere in Chelsea since they started having them.
Yes, we know.
The Shophound has been bitching and moaning about how bad the Warehouse Sale has gotten over the years for quite some time now, and it had become but a shadow of the former basement full of bargains that it was in its heyday. Yet, somehow, we almost always found something there worth our journey downtown. Some shiny bargain, undiscovered by others always managed to get into our hot little hands to complete even a marginally satisfying shopping trip. We have vague memories of walking out of there just a year ago with some once pricey shirts from Michael Bastian and Brioni that ultimately totaled less than $100 —nothing to complain about.
But yes, we had complained repeatedly that the sale had gotten so pathetic that Barneys should just cancel the whole brand-sullying event once and for all and focus on its Warehouse website, and it looks like that is exactly what they have done. While the Warehouse online experience often presents merchandise that is less discounted than what you'll find on the main luxury website's own final end-of-season sales, it still offers some good deals, especially on holiday weekends, like the one that is upon us. That's when extra discounts are applied to certain categories as well as clearance items bringing them close to the best deals that one might once have found in the Chelsea store's basement. Still, online browsing can't compare to intently rummaging through the bins under the original Co-op store on 18th Street (now a Room & Board), and we can't help but miss the late summer routine of deliberately finding a reason to walk down 17th or 18th street to see if any additional markdowns had been posted. Well, things will change. It's the nature of the universe, and at times over the past few years, it has looked like Barneys was ready to cancel the Warehouse Sale, so it shouldn't be too surprising to discover that it may actually have happened.
R.I.P. Warehouse Sale.
Even though we complained all the time —and you were far from perfect— it turns out we really loved you all along. You are already missed.
Barneys Spring Campaign Stars Models Who Are About The Same Age As Their Actual Customers
Barney New York launches its Spring advertising campaign today with a spotlight in today's New York Times on the Bruce Weber lensed story "Better Than Ever" about veteran fashion models surrounded by hot young hunks. The glamorous diva surrounded by scantily clad (and sometimes not clad at all) men is a time honored editorial trope found over the years in campaigns from Valentino to St. John Knits, but the twist here is the notable age difference between the guys and the models including Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, Pat Cleveland, Stephanie Seymour, Kiara Kabukuru, Bethann Hardison and Kirsten Owen. At 39, Kabukuru is hardly a senior citizen, but she's probably at least 15 years older than the speedo-wearing guys swirling around her. And Brinkley, who is at the center of the article, is a remarkably well preserved 61 years old. If anything, the campaign is a tribute to good skin care and highly effective cosmetic procedures —there's no possible way that Brinkley looks like that without had some work done, even if it is very, very good work— but the most remarkable aspect of the concept may be Barneys recognizing that the vast majority of its female customers are well past the ingenue age and more likely to be over 40, 50 and often 60 years of age. After all, it is usually older women who have financial resources to seriously shop at stores like Barneys, and as much as designers and retailers like to aim for a "young" or "dynamic" customer, the reality is often far different, whether they want to accept it or not.
Which brings us to the new campaign, a poolside frolic featuring a few stylishly dressed mature ladies and a flock of young male bathing beauties. Of course, never mind that if the genders were reversed, feminists would be up in arms over the recalcitrant sexism, on a day when the newly unveiled Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model appears to be actively removing her bikini bottom in a way that cannot be shown on morning television, this is actually fairly tame stuff. While Christie Brinkley has been a celebrity model since she was an SI cover girl in the 1980s, Pat Cleveland is an industry icon, and Brooke Shields was a teen superstar actress, but some of the other ladies like Kabukuru and Owen have been working steadily on high fashion shoots, and aren't really considered "mature" or "classic" models as agencies generally refer to their over-40 category. The Supermodels of the 90s, all now in their 40s, still do the occasional runway show as guest stars, but not novelty acts (see Amber Valetta and Eva Herzigova closing last month's Atelier Versace couture show). Though Barneys is playing up the decadent party aspect of the campaign, what is behind it, whether acknowledged or not, is a recognition that the women who end up wearing expensive clothes are more likely to be Brinkley's age than that of the 28 guys surrounding her.
Oh and those guys, well, they are there to remind you that this is a Bruce Weber shoot. In a video embedded In the Times' story (we are trying to get it on the page here for you) there is more than equal time given to their torsos, so the rejection of youthful beauty is maybe just a little disingenuous. It may just be gender reversed —for the moment.
The Fine-Wine Theory of Fashion Advertising By Matthew Schneier (NYTimes)
Here's the video:
And here's another from Style.com:
Our friends at Racked tell us that the Barneys New York in SoHo, formerly one of the first Co-op spin-off locations, has been closed permanently. Before Barneys moved in, the store was New York's Comme des Garçons boutique before it moved to its current less prominent (and therefore more appealing to designer Rei Kwakubo) West 22nd Street location. Barneys swiftly moved in and opened a Co-op store for women only, but changed little of the industrial '80s SoHo-style concrete and steel store design (pictured at right). Converting the unconventionally laid out boutique to Barneys' current glass, chrome and marble decor would have been an elaborate and costly undertaking. Then there's the inevitable rent hike that would have come with a lease renewal in a neighborhood that is more desirable than ever. It is likely that the folks at Barneys smartly decided to take their chances and redirect their SoHo customers to the new store being constructed inside the chain's original flagship in Chelsea. That opening has been pushed up to sometime next year, so for now, Barneys' only New York City locations are the Madison Avenue Flagship and the former Co-op stores on Broadway on the Upper West Side and on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn —down two doors from just a couple of years ago.
As we have mentioned before in the past few weeks, Barneys New York's experience with the Holiday Promotion season has been problematic to put it politely. This year, however, the folks in the head office seem to have gone to great lengths, and even greater expense, to reverse that unfortunate streak.
And it looks like they have succeeded by finding creative collaborators in film director Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin whose glitzy and often loopy sensibility recalls that slogan that Barneys' management has been busy trying to erase from its customers' memories: "Taste! Luxury! Humor!"
This season's slogan "Truth · Beauty · Freedom · Love" comes straight from the Bohemians of Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge. While the store may never revive Simon Doonan's wicked, comical caricature windows for the Holidays that brought such acclaim in the store's past, through collaborating with Luhrmann and Martin, they have revisited the sense of fun and surprise that has been lacking in the past few years. While we didn't get to catch "Elphresh" the dancing elf, who apparently appears on the hour to dance in his "Love" window, we caught a few moments of Celestia the Ice princess tentatively skating around her somewhat ironically titled "Freedom" corner display (in the gallery above). There is a mechanized owl for "Truth" and a mesmerizing kinetic sculpture called "The Spirits of the Snow" rightfully occupying the "Beauty" window. Acapella supergroup Pentatonix has recorded a special soundtrack for each window, and, of course, the dramatic decorative structure over the façade is more the sort of thing that stores will re-use for several years, although it is hard to imagine Barneys re-installing this again without the Luhrmann's cooperation.
And that, aside from the general pleasure in seeing the store finally get it right, is the other thing that sticks out about this whole promotion: the staggering expense it must have taken to pull it all together including the lavish one-time only production number the store staged on Monday for the unveiling. Inside the store, there is less decoration except for some custom-designed gold wallpaper wrapped around the a few columns on the main floor and holiday motifs at the escalator landing displays. The store has put most of its money on the outside for maximum visibility, which makes sense on a certain level. Barneys has spared no expense this Holiday season in part because the store is under great pressure not to botch the season again, especially after last year's regrettable shoplifting profiling scandal. The good news is that it looks like they succeeded. After the jump, have a look at a video featuring a behind the scenes look at the promotion as well as some footage from the opening extravaganza which was, apparently, not to be dampened by soggy weather.
THE WINDOW WATCHER:
Barneys' Baz-Dazzled Holiday Promotion To Debut On Thursday
Unveiling Dates For Lord & Taylor,
Saks & Bergdorf's
Unveiling Dates For Lord & Taylor,
Saks & Bergdorf's
Thanksgiving is kinda late-ish this year, which seems to have given New York's retailers license to unveil their Holiday windows as early as possible. Walk past Manhattan's big stores this week and see all the windows conspicuously shrouded as the visual teams furiously work to get those lights and tinsel trees in place. Barneys' highly publicized promotion with film director Baz Luhrmann is set to be unveiled tomorrow, just as the weather is finally expected to cool down to something reasonably appropriate for the Holiday season (it is currently 61˚F outside as we type this).
Barneys has a lot riding on the Luhrmann collaboration. It's Holiday promotions have hit sour notes for the past three years running which is particularly embarrassing for a store whose hilarious Holiday windows were once the talk of the town and one of the store's signature elements. This time, under Luhrmann's direction, the store will be going big and reintroducing some glitter and whimsy back into its newly super-serious minimalistic store. The Madison Avenue storefront will be covered with an elaborate façade (rendering pictured above), and, beyond just having animated displays, Luhrmann, is wife and creative partner Catherine Martin and designer Zaldy have been creating elaborate costumes for live performers who will appear in the windows and on the store's balconies throughout the season. Shoppers can look forward to ice skaters in the windows and a dancer/contortionist called Elphresh who will appear in a glittering gold romper. Weekends will bring the Queens of Night and Light appearing hourly on the store's second floor balconies in voluminous ballgowns to serenade the Madison Avenue crowds and more. We are cautiously optimistic that, after forays into celebrity, cartoons, ostentatious hip-hop-tinged special items and pretentious artsy-fartsy-ness, the folks currently running Barneys may have finally found their way back to the kind of sensibility that originally endeared New Yorkers to Barneys in the first place. If this Holiday promotion resonates with customers, maybe they will re-evaluate that "Taste! Luxury! Humor!" slogan they were so quick to dismiss.
Anyway, Barneys isn't the only store throwing itself a party tomorrow. Lord & Taylor, which is undergoing its own ongoing rejuvenation program, will be lighting up its windows on Thursday as well.
Bergdorf Goodman will be unveiling its windows, currently the city's most acclaimed, on Monday the 17th. The UNICEF Snowflake over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street will also be lit simultaneously, and 10% of the evening's proceeds will be donated to the U.S. fund for UNICEF.
Saks Fifth Avenue is conservatively holding its Holiday window reveal back until Monday November 24. With new ownership and management, the store is also looking to make a splash, so say goodbye to those illuminated dancing snowflakes on the façade that the store has presented in the past seasons. This year, Saks is promising The Rockettes themselves at the unveiling as well as a display from Fireworks by Grucci. The windows will pay tribute to the Roaring '20s and include brand new high-tech projections and lighting schemes. The launch will be live-streamed at Saks.com.
Bloomingdale's will be celebrating its windows on Monday as well with a live performance from Broadway star Idina Menzel at 5 PM on the Beacon Court of the Bloomberg Building across 59th Street along with the cast of the Off-Broadway show Illuminate.
Plan to leave work early.
As happy as everyone was to hear that Barneys New York was reclaiming part of its original Men's Store on Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, the disappointment was having to wait until 2017 for the store to open. Now, it appears that the schedule has been accelerated. Quietly dropped into a WWD article about the chain's renovation of its Beverly Hills store is the news that the new Chelsea store is set to open in January of 2016, which is less than a year and a half away.
Why the new date?
Perhaps renovations are less extensive than was expected, or are simply going faster. At one point The Shophound came across a proposed redesign of the store's façade that was quite extensive and would have dramatically changed the look of the building. We aren't sure if it was ever fully in the plans, but perhaps scrapping it has moved up the finish date, as the building currently does not appear to be undergoing much in the way of exterior revision to accommodate the upcoming store.
At any rate, more Barneys coming faster is a good thing.
No word yet on the possibly unlikely but very exciting notion that the store would take over the rest of its original Chelsea store now that the Rubin Museum has sold the building, but they haven't said that they aren't doing that, so we will continue to maintain that probably delusional possibility.