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Santa Claus who? In 1990, Barneys New York’s Simon Doonan introduced a whole new cast of holiday characters in the store’s windows: Madonna, Tammy Faye Bakker, Martha Graham, Ivana Trump, Mikhail Gorbachev, Joan Rivers and Karl Lagerfeld, among others. “We wanted to show what Christmas would be like with certain people — people who were interesting, au courant and would make good caricatures,” Doonan told WWD. “Each figure represents an aspect of life — sports, religion, politics, fashion, dance.” The superexaggerated, campy characters were created by New York artist Martha King, “who used plastic, clay, gauze, glass eyes from a taxidermist and ‘whatever else I could find’ to construct the likenesses.” Doonan added they got everyone’s consent, save for Gorbachev and U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. “We were originally going to do Ivana Trump as the 50-foot woman stomping through New York over all of these little buildings and carrying armloads of shopping bags,” he explained, “but she thought the idea was inappropriate.” Instead, they placed the Trump sculpture in a replica of a room at The Plaza.
This story first appeared in the December 21, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
King did her fair share of research and development for the project. She stalked Rivers during a Macy’s visit to get a good look at the comedienne, and to get Bakker’s skin tone just right she created the perfect color from “the hues of Velveeta cheese and Thousand Island dressing with ‘that orange grease that’s on chili.’ ” She and Doonan even enlisted their fashion designer friends for some holiday help. To wit: Badgley Mischka dressed the Trump look-alike, while Christian Francis Roth did Bakker. Madonna, meanwhile, lent her kitsch alter ego one of her own Jean Paul Gaultier dresses.