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NEW YORK — It’s Gaga Bells, Gaga Bells, Gaga all the way at Barneys New York this holiday season.
In an unprecedented move, Barneys is collaborating with Lady Gaga on a multifaceted holiday campaign centered around Gaga’s Workshop — a shopping environment informed by the pop icon’s personal take on Santa’s Workshop, and filled with limited edition gift items developed by Gaga and her go-to fashion friend Nicola Formichetti. Barneys will transform the entire fifth floor of its Madison Avenue men’s store, currently a Co-Op environment, to Gaga’s Workshop, and the collaboration also involves installation artists artists Eli Sudbrack and Christophe Hamaide Pierson of Assume Vivid Astro Focus, who are helping bring the Gaga-goes-Santa world to life.
This story first appeared in the August 15, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Holiday is about joy, sharing and inclusiveness, and to me, Gaga really represents all of that,” Barneys’ chief executive officer Mark Lee told WWD exclusively. “Her platform is so much about positivity, individuality and universality in a very today way.” Barneys worked closely with Gaga and Formichetti to design exclusive, limited edition small gift items — from candies and toys to apparel, accessories, candles and cosmetics. There also are Gaga-curated items like books and CDs. Among the limited edition items will be jewelry made entirely of rock candy; lipsticks in special Gaga red or pink hues; lip-shaped, hand-painted dark chocolate, and a Rubik’s Cube exclusive to this collaboration.
“There are a lot of things for fans of all ages, for kids and kids at heart,” Lee said. “I think our existing and new customers will find fun things to share and give as gifts in a lighthearted and not so serious way.”
Gaga’s Workshop will open in mid-November and will be up through Jan. 2, with the store’s Madison Avenue windows also dedicated to the theme.
“Where the windows have been the centerpiece in the past, they will be a huge important part of the story, but now, we also bring the windows to life upstairs with the shopping experience,” Lee noted.
Sudbrack, working with the Barneys team and under the direction of creative director Dennis Freedman, created the artwork for Gaga’s Workshop, which will be featured on holiday shopping bags, packaging and throughout the workshop and holiday windows.
Lee said he came up with the idea even before he accepted the Barneys job when he was thinking about what he would do with the windows. “I had two trains of thought. I was seeing Gaga everywhere and I was watching, month by month, how she was conquering every landmark of New York, from Carnegie Hall for the Rainforest Benefit to the Metropolitan Museum and the ‘Today’ show at Rockefeller Center. That was in my mind — this New York girl taking over these landmarks.
“I also always have a strong memory of Barbra Streisand singing and dancing in 1964 in that other store around the corner,” Lee said, referencing Bergdorf Goodman. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to bring that forward and who would be that pop icon today to do something associated to Barneys?’”
Timing, he explained, worked in favor of the project. “Because of the renovation plans and because we are moving the fifth floor men’s Co-op up to the eighth floor, it just happens that we have this once-in-a-lifetime possibility this holiday season to have an entire floor vacant,” Lee said.
Gaga is proving to be no Scrooge. As part of the collaboration, the store has committed to donating 25 percent of sales in the workshop to a charity of the artist’s choice.
Barneys.com will also feature a microsite devoted to the workshop, offering many of the products, and a selection of the merchandise will be available at other Barneys stores nationwide.
As for Gaga, she is expected to be on hand for the unveiling, and while Lee’s ultimate dream would be a TV special of the Barbra sort, he would be just as a happy with an outré Gaga moment. “She will be so blown away when she sees the final workshop that you never know, she may sing and dance a little in there,” Lee said.