The all-hair "Boudoir" room. Image courtesy of Tom Sibley.
Lady Gaga might not be the first person you think of when you hear the phrase “holiday cheer,” but last night at 11:59pm, the high-end New York retailer Barneys "went Gaga" to welcome the 2011 Holiday Season. The pop-star-artists-muse-personality-non-profit-founder herself was on-hand to unveil her holiday vision for the Midtown boutique, which she has transformed into a pop spectacle called “Gaga’s Workshop,” complete with flash-mob choirs, giant inflatable spiders, and over 200 curated gift selections. Continue Reading.
One of the previews that heralded the approach of the Workshop's opening - a blow-up spider with Gaga's face.
Yesterday’s opening wouldn’t have been a Gaga event without accompanying fan hysteria. Starting in the early morning, hundreds of Gaga’s self-proclaimed “little monsters” gathered outside of Barneys Madison Avenue flagship store to await the arrival of Lady Gaga herself. Under the auspices of Lady Gaga’s director of design Nicola Formichetti and Barneys’ creative director Dennis Freedman, Barneys has been made into a multifaceted wonderland; so even if the kitschy pop art inside the “workshop” isn’t your thing, the creative brilliance of the window displays is hard not to be moved by. The show exemplifies how Barneys is reviving and rethinking the physical storefront – a typology that passed out of our collective consciousness with the advent of online retailers.
Barneys worked with Atom Digital to spearhead their innovative experiential marketing campaign for Gaga’s Workshop. A series of previews called “12 Days of Gaga” preceded last night’s opening. Massive inflatable “previews” popped up in popular intersections around the city; flash choir and dance performances appeared without warning on street corners; and Barneys released surprise limited edition products on their website. If you were in Soho over the past few days, for example, you may have seen a massive inflatable spider with Lady Gaga’s cartoonish face.
The gateway to Gaga’s Workshop is a giant façade that dominates Barneys’ 60th Street entrance, where visitors walk into the mouth of Lady Gaga’s monster-like visage. Barneys’ Chief Executive Officer Mark Lee calls the installation “the largest and most completely realized holiday project ever undertaken in the history of Barneys New York.” The entire Men’s Store on the 5th Floor is taken up by Gaga’s Workshop, filled with bold patterns and bright accents designed by avaf. There are eight cartoonish sculpture stations created by the artist Eli Sudbrack, including a Candy Shop, Toy Shop, Closet, Library, Gallery, Jewelry Store, Boudoir and Holiday Shop, containing over 220 Lady Gaga-inspired theme gifts. You can pick up a $95 chocolate shoe intricately designed to mirror Gaga’s famed Alexander McQueen’s worn in the video for “Bad Romance,” and a quarter of all proceeds go to Gaga’s anti-bullying foundation,“Born this Way.”
Nicola Formichetti’s driving creative talents are exemplified by the windows. In addition to conceptualizing a Gaga holiday destination within Barneys, Formichetti and Freedman take a very different artistic position on the four window displays. “Gaga’s Boudoir” is constructed entirely from hair, as an homage to the creativity of her renowned hair stylist Bob Recine. Iconic references to past Gaga moments line the walls, floors, and furniture of this installation. The hair-boudior is a complete departure from another window entitled “Gaga Constellation,” where a film created by Formichetti and NYC-based experiential digital agency Q4 plays. Meanwhile, in “Gaga Machine,” Gaga morphs into an Art Deco motorcycle. In “Gaga’s Crystal Cave,” a mermaid sculpture reminiscent of (you guessed it) Lady Gaga reflects back against mirrored walls.
Although the Gaga theme is edgy – a definite departure from the classical holiday displays New York shoppers are accustomed to -- what is more exciting about Gaga’s Workshop is the variety and myriad collaborations on view in the window displays. The 5th-floor “workshops” are whimsical and fun, but the storefront displays are truly stunning, and let Barneys demonstrate their commitment to putting high fashion on display.
Gaga's Workshop. Images courtesy of Tom Sibley.
Image courtesy of Tom Sibley.
Another preview inflatable. Image courtesy of Barneys NY.