Get A Look At Thom Browne's Insane Spring Collection In Saks' Windows

Thom Browne was at Saks Fifth Avenue today for a trunk show featuring his controversial Spring 2014 collection. When we call it insane, we aren't trying to be snarky. That was his artistic intent for the runway show which featured models in giant birds' nest shaped hairdos and makeup that appeared to be a tribute to Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight. Like most of Browne's runway shows for both men and women, the general effect was extreme to say the least. Now that the visual department at Saks has virtually replicated the show's styling for the store's prime Fifth Avenue windows, you can get a closer look at the fascinating combinations of materials and meticulous workmanship that went into these outfits. Of course, you have to get up pretty close and peer through the venetian blinds inspired by the ones that obscure Browne's own boutique on Hudson Street, making the display appear even more mysterious (Did you even know that there was a Thom Browne boutique in New York?). It's going to take a whole lot of editing and adaptation to get prominent Browne customers like Michelle Obama, or anyone else for that matter, into these clothes, and the way they wind up hanging on the racks in stores like Saks and Barneys may not ultimately be as potent as the way they appear here, so it's worth going out of your way to check out these truly unusual designs in their original form —while they last.

Have a look at a few more shots in the gallery below

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Rag & Bone Wins Gay Pride
On Bleecker Street
Bob Mackie Disappointed With Bloomingdale's

Only a few years ago, the month of June brought a whole array of rainbows to the store windows of Bleecker Street's designer boutiques competing to celebrate Gay Pride in the neighborhood where it began 44 years ago. Lately, however, a changing roster of retailers has toned down the Pride window action. Ralph Lauren's simple but clever racks of rainbow of polo shirts are nowhere to be seen in his RRL Store windows, and even Marc Jacobs, normally the street's biggest cheerleader, has limited his displays to his teeny, tiny Men's store (pictured in the gallery below). Though it's not technically on Bleecker Street, one store has gone all out. Rag & Bone, around the corner on Christopher Street (arguably one of the city's most proudly gay thoroughfares) has festooned the windows of each shop in its string of West Village boutiques with bright 1980s style graffiti, giving Gay Pride decorations a refreshing Krush-Groove-Electric-Boogaloo flavor (pictured above and in the gallery below). Given this week's momentous Supreme Court rulings regarding gay marriage, it looks like Rag & Bone cleverly anticipated (possibly unintentionally) the excitement that would mount as Pride Weekend approaches, leaving the other store looking sadly blasé.

Uptown, Bloomingdale's gave a nod to Gay Pride with a display of The Stonewall Pride Collection, a group of celebrity gowns whose centerpiece is a pair of stage costumes designed by Bob Mackie for his "favorite straight female drag queen", Cher, of course (pictured below). The designer himself was a little underwhelmed by the other dresses in the line which included, among others, an Adidas-style gown made for Jane Lynch to wear on Glee, and a dress made by Chris March for Meryl Streep to wear to the Oscars (sadly looking a little the worse for wear). "I wanted the show to be more. If they’re going to do it, they should do it big," he told WWD, “Even if they only had people who design for drag queens, it would have been pretty fabulous.”Still, it's always worth going out of one's way to get a look up close at any of Cher's Mackie gowns because there is really nothing else like them and, you know, Cher. The Stonewall Pride Collection will be on display on Bloomingdale's third floor through this weekend.

Bob Mackie Underwhelmed With Stonewall Pride Collection (WWD)

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If You Can't Get Into The Met, Check Out Bergdorf Goodman's Punk Windows

Considering the bigger-than-ever hype around the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala this week, we are expecting that when the Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition opens to the public tomorrow, there will be crowds and lines for hours to get in. Since it runs through August, we expect that eventually, things will loosen up, but if you can't wait for a taste of what you might see inside the museum, head over to Fifth Avenue and 58th Street for a look at Bergdorf Goodman's windows that tie into the exhibition.

The visual team at Bergdorf's has pulled out all the stops for a set of displays that approach their dazzling Holiday-level standards featuring not only current merchandise, but also archival items lent by designers like Gareth Pugh, Libertine, Balmain and Acne Studios. The big Fifth Avenue windows are creating an evocative and witty Punk-inspired ambiance that is drawing its own crowds. Rather than attempting to photograph them ourself, we would direct you to the store's own blog where Bergdorf's has kindly done it for us in detail. Better yet, go down and see them yourself, if only for a refreshing departure from the relentless Great Gatsby mania that has swept every other store in the city.

On Fifth Avenue: from Chaos to Couture (58th/5th-Bergdorf Goodman Blog)


Hype vs. Craft—Holiday Windows At Bergdorf's & Barneys

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

Continue reading "THE WINDOW WATCHER:

Hype vs. Craft—Holiday Windows At Bergdorf's & Barneys" »


A Muted Pride For Downtown Shops

As the big New York Gay Pride Parade approaches this Sunday, The Shophound has become accustomed to seeing city retailers, especially those located downtown, express some support for LGBT Pride month with window displays, but this year we have noticed that many stores are taking a pass this year. We'll admit that we haven't done an exhaustive search —mainly because it's 100 #$@&ing degrees outside— but fewer stores seemed interested in participating even as the President recently expressed unprecedented support for Marriage Equality and New York State has legalized gay marriage. Even some Bleecker Street stalwarts like Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren's newly re-shuffled stores seem to be sitting it out this time around.

BloomingdalesPride2012That doesn't mean that display windows are entirely free of sentiment, however. Bloomingdale's has teamed up with underwear brand 2(X)IST for a rainbow of underpants and a headless mannequin (at left) in the Broadway windows of its SoHo store to celebrate Pride, and the Gap's Flatiron store on Lower Fifth Avenue (which is on the parade route) has installed the traditional rainbow of colored t-shirts (above) along with a mannequin couple and an image from the chain's recent GAPpride2012-A"Be Bright-Be One" campaign featuring a male couple that got conservative activist groups all hot and bothered (at right).

Of course, there are always the unofficial acknowledgements that are up for interpretation. We have argued that it's always Gay Pride time at Abercrombie & Fitch, and over at sister store Hollister in SoHo, it has officially been Summer for a few week now as the pair of doormen flanking its entrance are now in their surf shorts for the duration of the season. As always, you can make of this particular work uniform what you will.


Bergdorf Goodman Unleashes A Holiday Menagerie

You will, no doubt, be hearing a ton today about that other store that is debuted its Holiday windows last night in conjunction with a huge pop star, but yesterday afternoon, we strolled a few blocks away to Bergdorf Goodman where our favorite windows of recent Holiday seasons have been found. The Shophound was not disappointed. Once again, Bergdorf's has presented five individual but related scenes in their Fifth BGholiday-inside-BAvenue windows that are a marvel of lavish design. The theme, this year is "Carnival of Animals", incorporating creatures of the land, air and sea (above) in fanciful tableaux that are causing passersby to stop for extended gazes into the windows as they try to take in the all the intricate elements that make up the designs. Along with the Bergdorf visual team's prodigious handiwork, he windows actually work in a bit of product from the store here and there, including a specially designed dress by our favorite glittermeister, Naeem Khan, but the overall goal is less to sell specific items and more to stop people in their tracks. The Men's Store across the street joins in as well with a more whimsical series of windows featuring a weightlifting executive lion (below) and a snazzy singing cardinal among other gentlemanly beasts.

Of course, all those gawkers make it damned hard for The Shophound to photograph these windows for you, but Bergdorf's own blog, 58th at 5th, has dutifully documented them far better than we could. BGholiday-inside-AWe have reposted some of our favorite images, but be sure to click HERE for a complete slideshow of all the windows, or better yet, just go down there and see them for yourself so you can really take in all the impressive details that Bergdorf's has made part of its Holiday signature —and don't forget to have a look inside. The store's visual team has not neglected the interior by any means. The main floor of the Women's store is an opulent sight on any given day, but the team has outdone themselves this year in creating striking decorations that blend seamlessly with the store's already ornate design. It looks like a Beaux-Arts, winter forest is taking root amongst the vitrines and caselines (above left and right).

We'll have more about that other store later, but, for now, you should know that the pop star has some worthy competition over on Fifth Avenue.

They’re Alive: Carnival of the Animals (58th at 5th/Bergdorf Goodman)


A Rich Treasure Trove In The Windows At Bergdorf's & Barneys

Last week, The Shophound couldn't help rolling our eyes a bit at the Daphne Guinness "dressing room" stunt last week in Barneys' windows before the Met Ball. Don't let that bit of silliness keep you from a visit to the rest of the store's windows, however. We passed by the store yesterday and saw them crammed with selections from Guinness's vast clothing archives including one section devoted to some iconic items that belonged to the late Isabella Blow. Guinness purchased Blow's wardrobe in order to preserve it intact for just such an occasion, and all the windows are filled with some genuinely remarkable clothes, accessories and outrageous shoes (pictured above).  Some are by famous designers like Alexander McQueen, Phillip Treacy and Gareth Pugh, while others are by less famous makers and yet others are antiques or things specially made for Guinness. While the flamboyant dresser may be a neophyte performance artist, she is an accomplished collector of couture, and the windows make a pretty convincing case for a full exhibition devoted to her own wardrobe. Given her obvious ambition, we imagine that it isn't far off. Sadly, the lighting in the windows is low to preserve the clothing, so they are difficult to photograph, but we think it's well worth your time to make your way to Barneys just to press your nose against the glass in person.

While you're in the neighborhood, a trip a few blocks away is in order to see Bergdorf Goodman's tribute windows to Alexander McQueen (below), timed to coordinate with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Savage Beauty exhibition, dedicated to the designer. Bergdorf's has taken some items from the McQueen archives that didn't make it to the Met and constructed displays around them that rival the store's opulent Holiday windows in lavishness and fantasy. Visual Merchandising chief David Hoey has pulled out all the stops with the five Fifth Avenue windows, and though you can view full pictures at Bergdorf's blog, they really should be experienced in person as well. Hurry, though, the displays are set to come down after this weekend.

So if you haven't had a good midtown window shopping trip in a while, now is clearly the time before the windows are switched out for more prosaic fare and consigned to memory.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (58th/5th—Bergdorf Goodman)
Daphne Guinness on The Window (The Window—Barneys New York)


Bergdorf's Brings It With Full Credits

BGScenicRoute Bergdorf Goodman has set a pretty high bar for itself when it comes to Holiday Windows, but this year with a contest and a lavish new book to flog, the store has pulled out all the stops. We love to report on the windows, especially for those of you readers who may not get a chance to see them in person, but it is always difficult to photograph them adequately, especially with glass reflections, lighting issues and pesky passersby who insist on pressing their faces against the glass for what seems like hours to drink in every tiny detail.

Now that they have their own blog, however, the folks at Bergdorf's have solved our problem by publishing their own, professionally taken images of their windows. This year, the Fifth Avenue vitrines are a bit cleaner and crisper in composition, but no less beautiful than they have ever been. To give everyone a better idea of exactly what goes into creating the windows, the store has made a charming music video of sorts (below) starring its visual staff that shows the hard at work. Better yet, it even has a title card at the end full of credits, making Bergdorf Goodman the only store we are aware of that gives full credit to every person who worked on their anual magnum opus.

Bravo, Bergdorf's!

Wish You Were Here: Follow Me & go Behind the Scenes (5th at 58th)


Lord & Taylor Gives Us
A Holiday Sneak Peek


Click all images for a larger view in a new window

Lord & Taylor will unveil its famous Holiday windows this Monday, November 15th, but yesterday, The Shophound got a rare sneak peek at one of the windows that the store's visual team has been working furiously to prepare for next weeks debut. We were ushered downstairs to the workshop (part of which is actually underneath Fifth Avenue) and allowed to view one nearly finished window as it was being assembled in the store's unique hydraulic lift system, a small, officially sanctioned portion of which is pictured above.

LandTfigure1 This year, Vice President of Visual Merchandising Scott Devine and his team broke from tradition just a bit. Instead of dreaming up another nostalgic Victorian-era theme, they turned to the Lord & Taylor's Facebook fans and asked for stories about their holiday memories. After sifting through a torrent of response, favorites were chosen and incorporated into the store's Holiday window designs titled "Share The Joy". Nine months in the making (just like a baby), the windows will stand out this year by including more modern scenes and contemporary families, but still framed with the store's beloved, animated Holiday flair.

LandTfigure2 Monday's unveiling extravaganza will be an all-day affair with special appearances from Candy Queen Dylan Lauren, her almost in-law FEED Projects co-founder Lauren Bush and restaurateur Sarabeth Levine, culminating at 5:30 PM with a performance by The Young People's Chorus of New York City featuring Emmy and Tony winning "Promise, Promises" star Kristin Chenoweth. We would totally go out of our way for a free Cheno appearance, and she will sing a specially composed song for the occasion.

If that's not enough to get you to 39th and Fifth on Monday, then you might consider that the store will be offering $5 tickets that will get you a 20% savings on any single item as well as a 15% savings pass on nearly everything in the store including the cosmetics and fragrances that are always excluded from these kinds of offers. Ticket proceeds will go to the American Red Cross in Greater New York, so you're really kind of a stingy ogre if you don't go, aren't you? Something to think about while you are calculating your savings on a Chanel lipstick.

Lord & Taylor Holiday Windows debut November 15th at 424 Fifth Avenue Between 38th & 39th Streets