NEW YORK – “Chillin’ Out,” in the brrrrr sense of the phrase, is the theme of Barneys New York’s holiday windows, which are being unveiled at the retailer’s Madison Avenue flagship here today.
The theme could just as easily have been chillin’ out as in relaxing and hanging out, but that would have seemed incongruous at this high stress time of year when shopping, deals and discounts are hyped to the nth degree.
Barneys chose the less charged interpretation of chillin’ out, which is represented by a mascot who appears on shopping bags and hang tags. He’s a hip-looking penguin with lots of swagger and a hairdo that’s a cross between James Dean and Elvis’ locks and who rocks a leather jacket tagged with buttons and pins.
Windows are dramatic in their frozen effects, which “has been very challenging for us in terms of how we used technology,” a Barneys New York spokeswoman said.
Utah-based Ice Castles, an entertainment company that creates large scale ice formations, typically on mountaintops, built one of its installations in a window. A fully operational ice locker within the display maintains a temperature of 3 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and utilizes a custom misting system that enables the creation and maintenance of the icescape.
Frigid winter is depicted in a window titled “Winter Brilliance” by Dale Chihuly, an artist whose architectural installations feature handblown glass objects shaped like stalagmites, sea anemones and planets, among other things. Barneys added 3-D mapping technology to make Chihuly’s sculpture, which looks like a grand crystalline explosion but is actually composed of individual hand-blown glass icicles, kinetic.
The deep freeze gets a bit of levity from a penguin race, a riff on the classic childhood game where the black and white birds race around a track. Barneys’ updated version features accurately scaled Lexus model cars with penguins riding on top as an animated film plays in the background. Stuffed animal penguins are for sale in the store.
Finally, Okamoto Studio, a New York-based artist collective known for its work made of ice, is doing live ice-carving performances in a stylized satellite studio set up in a window. “Ice is one of the most fascinating materials because it’s just that one time only,” Okamato Studio says on its Web site. “People know that it’s melting and going away and it becomes a metaphor for that present moment.”