The Barneys Chelsea Store Comes Into Focus Including A February Opening
January 8, 2016
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.
Behind Barneys’ Cutting-Edge Return to Its Old Neighborhood By David Kamp (Vanity Fair)