It has been a rough road for the current management team at Barneys New York when it comes to the Holiday Season. Last year's big Jay Z promotional effort collapsed as a particularly ill-timed discrimination scandal unfolded, forcing the cancellation of a gala launch event. Previous efforts involving Disney and Lady Gaga were criticized as off-key and off-brand for a store as sophisticated and exclusive as Barneys, but this year, it looks like the retailer is taking some steps toward the kind of promotion its customers have come to expect by joining forces with acclaimed Australian director Baz Luhrmann for a Holiday program to be called Baz Dazzled.
Luhrmann along with his wife and key collaborator Catherine Martin have developed a multi-platform initiative that will cover shopping bags (pictured above), in-store displays, special products and, of course, windows. The crest pictured on the bag will be the jumping-off point for the program with its artwork set to be re-created in the windows for a six-week run. “We’re entering a whole different world of theater film, costume design and performance,” said Dennis Freedman, Barneys’ creative director, tells WWD. “I hope people are going to be thrilled to see these woodland creatures come alive." Animated displays will have the windows moving round-the-clock and live performances will take place in them throughout the Holiday season. In addition, an elaborate facade will be constructed over the store's Madison Avenue façade.
Special limited edition items developed for the store will include, among other things, a handcrafted Champagne saber, children's costumes and a backgammon set. Expect to start hearing more about it around mid-November, which is not as far away as you might think.
Retailers and press know Capsule as a can't-miss trade show during Market Weeks in New York, Las Vegas and Paris, but this weekend it will gather up some of its prized exhibitors and unleash them on SoHo shoppers when Capsule Market Square opens at 82 Mercer Street. If you didn't get enough of last weekend's Pop-Up Flea, then you can just go right back to the same location starting on Saturday and shop some more. Over 100 brands will be collected together including Capsule stalwarts like Mark McNairy, Naked & Famous, Billy Reid, Maison Kitsuné, Organic by John Patrick and Want les Essentials de la Vie just to name a few. Many of them will be offering exclusive, special items available only at the event, and along with them, you'll find plenty of refreshments, special surprises and raffles. Shoppers who spend more than $500 cumulatively will get the chance to choose a prize from either a men's or women's grab bag valued anywhere from $75 to $350. In addition to that,Capsule has set up The Editor's Closet, where top editors from Vogue, GQ, Details and Refinery 29 have donated some of their own, gently worn designer clothes for sale to benefit the Ali Forney Center, a non-profit organization that provides shelter and services to homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City. At the very least, The Capsule Market Square, much like last weekend's event, promises to be a prime opportunity to check out some of New York's most stylish Fashion Folk whilst in casual weekend shopping mode —kind of like a street-style blog come to life
Capsule Market Square 11 AM - 8 PM on December 14 - 15 at 82 Mercer Street between Broome & Spring Streets, SoHo
This week is an extravaganza of Holiday Window unveilings around the city with ever more fanfare for each marketing opportunity. This season, Barneys has taken a different approach after a couple seasons of disappointing post-Simon Doonan efforts. This time, the store has teamed up with French visual artist Joanie Lemercier to present four interactive intallations featuring light shows, high-tech 3D imagery and a futuristic Santa and Mrs. Clause portrayed by performers from the improv group Upright Citizens Brigade. Despite being embattled in so many other ways this Holiday Season, it looks like the store has finally found a way to distinguish itself both from other store's displays and it's own heritage of irreverent, comical Holiday windows. Because of their kinetic nature, Barneys smartly debuted the windows virtually via Instagram videos which you can see embedded below and after the jump.
First up, REFLECTIONS, an ever changhing light show based on a broken-off fragment of the city.
Is it too early for Holiday Shopping?
Well, Hannukah starts before Thanksgiving this year, so not really.
Starting this Saturday and running through December 28th, New York design studio Little Fury has joined forces with AIGA The Professional Association for Design to stage Divine Details, a collection of 33 beautifully designed and crafted everyday goods at AIGA's Flatiron district Design Gallery. Items range from Grain Audio's Bluetooth speaker to Click & Grow's countertop garden to Tegu's magnetic wooden blocks to name a few. Think of it as Gift List that has been curated by experts. Each selection will be accompanied by an original, fictional story by an up-and-coming New York writer.
"We’ve created this space with AIGA to transform the holiday shopping rush into an experience that’s thoughtful and imaginative, that engages culture as opposed to being consumers of it," says creative director Tina Chang. "It’s an exhibition committed to the little ‘Ah-ha!’ moments we all have when a well-designed object comes to life.” The shop will also host a series of special events combining design, food, music and story of the course of it's run starting with “Further Details: Food,” a five-course farm-to-table feast with Brooklyn chef team The Pixie & The Scout, whom you might know from Blue Hill and Applewood.
Of course, the main appeal may be just imagining the satisfaction you always feel when you have crossed one more name off your Holiday list. That is always an accomplishment in and of itself. Since the shop opens this weekend, there should be enough time to shop for whatever Holidays you might celebrate, but the concept doesn't end with the Holidays. Starting in January, the Divine Monthly seasonal subscription program will launch featuring three Divine objects delivered over the course of three months, each with an original story included. Take a look at the upcoming shop and some of its offerings in our gallery below.
Divine Details starting November 2 at the AIGA National Design Center Gallery through December 28, 164 Fifth Avenue between 21st & 22nd Streets, Flatiron District
After weeks of rumors, Barneys New York confirmed that this year's Holiday season promotion will be based around Hip Hop star Jay Z. This is in keeping with the store's new tradition of allying itself with celebrities (Lady Gaga) and other media figures (Minnie Mouse) for its Holiday programs. "A New York Holiday" teams the rapper with a host of designers including Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Balmain to create exclusive pieces that will be sold in a special boutique in the Madison Avenue flagship. The "BNY SCC Gallery" (for Barneys New York and Shawn Corey Carter, Jay Z's given name) will launch on the third floor of the men's store on November 20th, and will include items like Proenza Schouler's first bag for men and a $33,900 gold watch from Hublot. That same evening, the store will sponsor a fundraising event for the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation, which focuses on young students who have been overlooked by other, more traditional scholarship programs such as those with a G.E.D. or who have been incarcerated. The foundation will also receive 25% of the proceeds from the collaboration.
Carter tells WWD, “With this project, Barneys New York and I were able to take the slickness, energy and innovation of New York City and translate that into quality, timeless pieces. Everything that encompasses ‘A New York Holiday’ — the items chosen, the amazing designers that participated, the windows, the design of the BNY SCC Gallery — represents a perfect example of a unique and groundbreaking collaboration that I hope demonstrates how inspiring New York has been to me.”
By collaborating with some of Barneys' key brands, this promotion promises to feel more fully integrated with the store than the Disney and Gaga programs from previous Holiday seasons, which were criticized for feeling off-brand and shoehorned into a retailer with a more sophisticated and exclusive image. A This year, a special shopping bag has been created, and the Jay Z project will be incorporated into the Holiday windows, doubtlessly creating a flurry of major media attention. The holiday program fits in with the store's current marketing concept of allying with other figures in media or the fashion world to create excitement, even as some would still be happy just to see another round of Simon Doonan's famous, comical Holiday Windows. The new Barneys has left that life behind.
Maybe it's a bit on the nose, but we love how Harry Winston, the great diamond purveyor, has festooned the façade of its Fifth Avenue store with gigantic ultra-fake diamonds for the Holidays. That they don't look remotely real makes them all the more delightful. Viva glitz!
Is there any other city like New York when it comes to Christmas windows? Between Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's and Macy's among others, what city has such a high concentration of flagship stores with the kind of huge, continuous display windows that lend themselves to to these kinds of seasonal indulgences? While most of theses stores usually design their displays to entertain the whole family (and by that we mean kids), Two of them have always made a point of decorating with a little more sophistication. When Barneys was downtown on 17th Street and Seventh Avenue, then creative director Simon Doonan helped make the store's name with wickedly parodic windows that frequently skewered celebrities and events of the day. In recent years, Bergdorf Goodman has turned away from classic, holiday themes in favor of lavishly constructed fantasy themes that seem to get more intricate each year in its Fifth Avenue windows. Neither store has ever felt the need to offer something for everyone, and both know that their customers (many of whom they share) demand things that are just a bit different.
This year, Bergdorf's has picked a Jazz Age theme, "The BG Follies"for its five big Fifth Avenue windows this year. To a certain extent, the store and its Visual Director David Hoey generally take an "If it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude, using (and often re-using) design elements in abundance to make the most lavish display imaginable. Minimalist, they are not. In fact they are so crammed with objects and figures and decor that you could stare at them for hours, gazing at the lovingly crafted details. Pictured above is window #1, entitled "By Request", tribute of sorts to the all-girl band in Some Like It Hot. It makes use of a bird's-eye-view effect that has become something of a signature for the store. Repeating this element so often might seem a little less than original, but at this point, Bergdorf's Holiday windows are like a delicious cake that you only get to eat once a year. The familiarity is part of the pleasure. It would be disappointing if Naeem Khan didn't make a glittering custom designed gown for the windows as he has taken to doing in recent years, and this year he made two. Even better. You can see much better pictures than we could take of the rest of the windows at the store's blog 58th at Fifth HERE.
While Bergdorf's is sticking to its tradition, Barneys is in the protracted process of finding exactly what its image is going to be for the future. The management team that has directed the store for the past couple of years has tirelessly worked to remake nearly every aspect of the store's personality including a renovation of the flagship that seems timely on the one hand but also exceedingly ruthless on the other. The store's quirky but luxurious and sophisticated style ("Taste! Luxury! Humor!), honed over decades in great part by Mr. Doonan and a longstanding creative team, has been abandoned in favor of a slicker, more editorial point of view. Like a magazine, the store is now more likely to define itself by joining with other, unrelated personalities like Daphne Guinness, Carine Roitfeld and last year's Holiday promotion star, Lady Gaga. This time they went with Disney, collaborating on a heavily publicized short cartoon called Electric Holiday featuring Minnie Mouse dreaming herself into a Paris runway show and costarring a who's who of real life fashion figures (including Ms. Guinness, Gaga and Ms. Roitfeld among many others) transformed into Disney versions of themselves (watch it after the jump). There has been something of an outcry against Minnie Mouse's runway alter ego, who is stretched out to impossibly thin and out of character runway proportions to fit into her Lanvin dress, an effect that is bestowed on several other Disney figures thanks to an ill advised Tinkerbell and some fairy dust. It turns out that the complaints are justified. Despite composer Michael Giacchino's jazzy score, there is nothing less charming than seeing lively Disney characters sapped of their personalities as they clomp down a cartoon runway serving blank, state of the art runway model bitchface. The only one who looks at home is Cruella de Vil, so make of that what you will. Of course the other disappointment is that Barneys appears to have sunk their entire effort into this cartoon which means that instead of actual window displays, they have four big video screens on Madison Avenue playing the cartoon short. Walk into the store, and you would barely be able to tell that it is the Holiday season as well. Aside from a few not especially compelling light installations, what passes for Christmas decorations in the store is a mural sized black and white drawing of the celebrities who appear in the cartoon that is reproduced throughout the store. If you didn't know what it was, you would just think it was a big caricature drawing with nothing to do with the season. By contrast, Bergdorf's has repurposed it's interior decorations from last year, not uncommon among stores, or many homes, actually, but they are still arresting and evocative, featuring garlands of silver branches with swans and peacocks all over the store's already lavish main floor. There's no missing that the store is decorated for a special occasion.
So what we have one store that knows exactly who it is and finds a way to delight if not always surprise, and another that still hasn't managed to find a new direction that lives up to the original and unique on it has abandoned. Guess which one we are enjoying more?
See more of Bergdorf Goodman's windows HERE
Watch Barneys' Electric Holiday cartoon after the jump
For the past 10 days or so, most of us have been preoccupied by either Hurricane Sandy or the Presidential election, so the folks at Macy's are probably betting that you aren't paying attention to the fact that they are already fully decorated for Christmas. These photos were taken last Saturday, November 3rd, just a couple of days after Halloween, when the store was completely decked out for the Holidays. Thanksgiving, still the traditional kickoff for the Holiday shopping season, is still over two weeks away.
In fairness, Macy's Herald Square is an immense building, and it would probably be impossible to decorate it in just a few days before Thanksgiving, but nobody wants to think about the Holidays if they are still feeling queasy from all the candy they have sneaked from trick-or-treating kids. Also, Thanksgiving is as early as it can possibly be this year, giving everyone more than enough time to see Christmas decorations during their appropriate season. Still, most department stores have a tin ear when it comes to these things. Holiday is their big moneymaking season, and they can't start it soon enough whether customers want to see it or not.
On the plus side, if you are a fan of Macy's moribund ersatz Art Deco main floor, then this will be your last chance to see it festooned for the Holidays before it is replaced with a brighter, more modern look. Oddly, the holiday decorations were only placed on the non-renovated sections on the main floor when we visited over the weekend. The shiny new departments including new accessory shops for Coach and Michael Kors, were unencumbered by garlands and tinsel.
You may have heard that Barneys New York is planning its Holiday Windows and other promotions around a big collaboration with the Walt Disney Co. and all of its famous characters. You will be hearing all sorts of fawning coverage about this. The first thing that came to The Shophound's mind when we heard about this was "Off-Brand", but, hey that's just us and our pesky taste level. We weren't too crazy about last year's "GaGa's Workshop" either.
Today, Barneys and Disney released more images and information about the event which will be called "Electric Holiday" and include a 3-D electric light show, short films in the windows featuring Disney characters re-imagined as supermodels and reportedly, fashion celebrities transformed into Disney cartoons all to be accompanied by original music from Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino. As WWD reports,
The short film centers around Minnie Mouse’s fantasy to be at the Paris shows. There she comes across key Disney characters — Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Daisy Duck, Cruella de Vil, Princess Tiana and Snow White — all decked out in unique designer clothes as they make their way down the runway.
For the occasion, Mickey is dressed by Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga, Minnie by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Goofy by Olivier Rousteing for Balmain, Daisy by Dolce & Gabbana, Cruella by Rick Owens, Princess Tiana by Proenza Schouler and Snow White by Peter Copping for Nina Ricci.
We hope all turns out better than it sounds, although it makes us wonder if Barneys' current management really understands who shops at Barneys and why. We always thought that it was people who wanted to get away from this sort of thing. This all sounds more like Bloomingdale's, or even Macy's to us, but hey, it's their store, and we can't get too excited about Christmas on a gorgeous late Summer day. We are, however concerned about Minnie and Daisy's makeover into spiky fashion types, as pictured above. As much as we admire Alber Elbaz and his work for Lanvin, we don't recognize these animal-headed creatures. They are not the Minnie and Daisy we know. Where are Daisy's feathers? Or Minnie's chunky pumps?
Whatever. This is happening.
eBay Recruits the Designers Who Aren't Working With Target And Neiman Marcus For Its Own Holiday Project
Not to be outdone by the giant Holiday Season team-up of Target and Neiman Marcus, eBay has announced its own exclusive Holiday gift program with a group of American designers. The eBay Holiday Collective will launch on November 12th featuring exclusive merchandise designed and sold by Billy Reid, Chris Benz, Fallon, Jonathan Adler, Ruffian, Steven Alan and Tibi through eBay's Fashion Vault. The offerings will include 40 items ranging from $50 to $100 with each designer contributing at least five pieces. This marks the first time eBay has offered exclusive items together from a group of designers, although it has worked individually with designers in the past.
Unlike Target's and Neiman's program, eBay's designers will produce and own the merchandise themselves, without eBay taking an ownership stake in the goods. eBay Fashion general manager Jeff Somers tells WWD that designers were chosen based on “their genuine enthusiasm for eBay and because each brings originality and a distinct point of view, and embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of our marketplace.” Participating designers will also make wish lists and promote other items available through eBay for the Holiday season. So the race is on now. Who else will corral a team of designers to make Christmas presents, and who is left to recruit?