By  on April 18, 2008

NEW YORK — With a focus on career suits and separates, shirts and outerwear, the sixth floor of Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue flagship stood out like a prairie dress at a Manhattan gallery opening.

Almost every other floor had been remodeled in the store’s 15-year history so that merchandise and interior design reflected the spirited, sophisticated aesthetic that is Barneys.

Well, the sixth floor’s time has come.

“We’re trying to make [the sixth floor] more sexy and elevate the brands,” said Philippe Wy Hum, vice president of store design at Barneys. “We’re trying to create a shop-in-shop feel. We want to have a more intimate environment for our vendors.”

“We see the fifth and sixth floors as being very similar,” said Judy Collinson, women’s merchandise manager. “Both are a mix of young luxury, with some very new small and innovative designers and some more established designers, but all spirited and strong.”

In the recent past, sixth floor resources included the Barneys New York Collection, Etro, Isabella Tonchi, Jane Wheeler, Jeffrey Chow, Paul Smith and Piazza Sempione, some of which have been relocated to other floors.

“The redesigned floor features Stella McCartney, Erdum, Marc Jacobs, Marni and Miu Miu. Both floors five and six will have a large group of our growing designer businesses such as The Row, Thakoon, Duro Olowu and Lutz & Patmos,” Collinson said.

“We needed this floor to look like and be merchandised as a designer floor,” she said. “Our business continues to grow in this area. We want to present each designer very well and we want to continue to do this with a very open, gallery-like approach. We needed the space.”

Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester reside on the fifth floor.

The new sixth floor is designed to have a light, contemporary, free-flowing feel. Clothing is displayed on sets of floating bars and simple curved fixtures.

“They let the clothes speak for themselves,” Wy Hum said.

Wood cylinders supported by thin metal rods frame merchandise groupings for a shop-in-shop effect. In the center of the room, a 1,000-square-foot rectangular mosaic made from natural fieldstone was dropped into the floor. The surrounding French oak was stripped and lightened with a whitewash and liming process.Norbert Kimmel’s installation made of twisted metal will protrude from the ceiling, pierce one of the columns and come out the other side.

Dressing rooms are also getting attention. Rather than individual fitting rooms scattered across the floor, there will be a more centralized fitting area with a lounge vibe so customers can shop with their friends.

British painter Hugo Dalton on Wednesday put the final touches on his work on the sixth floor. His art, inspired by an orchid preserve on the Channel Islands, unfolded lyrically across the walls.

“It’s really tucked away and very discreet,” he said of the preserve. “That resonated to me about Barneys. It’s kind of a discreet place and full of all these different species.”

Discovered by Barneys’ creative director Simon Doonan, Dalton has had shows at the Fine Arts Society and Institute of Contemporary Art in London. His work is collected by Kay Saatchi, Antony de Rothschild and Sam Parker Bowles.

Dalton painted with aluminum so that clothes placed in front of the walls will shimmer. In the dressing rooms, the orchids climb up the walls and onto the ceiling.

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