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.