By  on July 13, 2005

NEW YORK — Lord & Taylor is taking its customers behind the scenes of its fall fashion shoot with splashy new video technology for window displays.

A video of models on the set and close-ups of vintage necklaces, suede boots, crocheted sweater dusters and other looks from the pre-fall L&T catalogue are vividly depicted in the Fifth Avenue windows on seven state-of-the-art video "cylinders." Each video cylinder stands 7 feet, 2 inches tall, and runs continual three-minute loops with images of the fashion shoot highlighting western, bohemian and embellished looks.

For further effect, images reflect off mirror panels just behind the cylinders, and the video runs on the huge arch above the store's main entrance and is visible from across Fifth Avenue. The backdrops to the windows are clear but mimic the shape of the cylinders, Rootstein mannequins straddle the video cylinders and LED projectors on the back walls are computerized to change the colors of the lighting against the walls. The video was shot by Orasis, a Greek film company that made ads for the Athens Olympics.

The presentation is dubbed "Advance Notice," since it promotes pre-fall in a technologically advanced manner. Lord & Taylor for the past five years has become more daring with its windows to make the store more of a destination and to update its image. L&T has placed Corvettes in its windows to promote Father's Day, and famous artists ranging from Larry Rivers to Red Grooms have been showcased. Grooms created special artwork for scaffolding just above the main floor.

"Last year, when we presented 'Advance Notice,' we had 54 flat screens in our windows. It was so well received that we wanted to raise the bar," said Lavelle Olexa, senior vice president of fashion merchandising.

"How do you know when a window display works? That's always subjective, but when you start seeing people stop and take a look, you get a pretty good idea, particularly with all the men who look at this technology," Olexa said.

Manoel Renha, divisional vice president of visual merchandising, fashion and special events, added, "Fashion is always the most important, but visual merchandising is more than showing fashion. It's about creating an experience for the customer. That's what we tried to achieve."Indeed, L&T's "high-tech billboard" is a far cry from the usual setup of flat-screen monitors that many retailers use in their stores. Lord & Taylor is the first retailer in the country to use the video cylinders, according to store executives and Alan Kaufman, vice president of sales for DynaScan Technology, the Irvine, Calif.-based division of Chroma, the Taiwanese company that manufactures the cylinders. Kaufman said the cylinders are on loan to L&T to help promote them in New York so other retailers might adopt them. They will be in L&T's windows until Aug. 8.

According to DynaScan information, the cylinders work on patented spinning LED (light-emitting diodes) technology and use very small pixels for better resolution and contrast. They can also display up to three different full images simultaneously, vertically or horizontally, and there can be motion to the image or still shots. Aside from the high-quality picture, the unusual cylindrical shape of the equipment in itself attracts attention because shoppers are more accustomed to flat-screen equipment. The cylinders weigh 600 pounds and cost $70,000.

"The company is relatively new in the United States, less than two years old," Kaufman said. "But we have hundreds of installations worldwide. I believe we will see more and more of them here." So far in the U.S., they have been visible in only a handful of locations, including Disney World, Universal Studios and Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla., as well as a few shopping centers and corporate lobbies.

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