NEW YORK — Lord & Taylor and Barneys New York last week began the flood of holiday window unveilings with events that reflected the two retailers’ distinct personalities.
Constantly jockeying to cast a younger image, Lord & Taylor on Thursday recruited singer Nick Jonas as the opening act for its event. Jonas, who has been photographed channeling Marky Mark, bared his tamer side, crooning a wholesome medley of two Christmas classics, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” and two songs from his new self-titled CD — “Chains” and “Jealous.” A few times, Jonas went silent, encouraging the crowd of teens and twentysomethings to join in with the lyrics they knew by heart.
After the window curtains were pulled, displaying an aristocratic mansion on a starry night, Jonas was escorted upstairs to the flagship’s third floor to be greeted by a crowd of about 500 shrieking fans queued up to be photographed with the pop star. They also received a copy of his CD, pre-autographed. Even some of the older generation swooned. “He’s hot,” said Liz Rodbell, the president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay. “Our customers are totally inspired by what he stands for.”
“I don’t want anything for Christmas,” Jonas said. “I just want to spend time with my family.” It’s release week in New York for his CD, though Jonas is thinking beyond. “I’m in conversation with a few people” on a possible apparel deal, Jonas said. “I think outerwear would work for me, but I don’t want to rule out any category.”
Not to go unnoticed were Lord & Taylor’s venerable holiday windows. They’re typically traditional, warm and fuzzy holiday scenes. This time around, in honor of the flagship turning 100 this year, Roe Palermo, L&T’s divisional vice president of store visuals, created a tableaux filled with humor and lots of whimsical elements — paper sculptures created from the pages of books — requiring more than a casual once over to take it all in. The five windows create a magical tour of the mansion — there’s a peephole into a room of ballerina marionettes; a library overrun by frolicking mice; a garden of fairies and butterflies set under the aurora borealis; a scene of red cardinals decorating for holiday, and a tongue-in-cheek gallery of anthropomorphic animal portraits, in photo and video form. All around, there’s freshly fallen snow and twinkling stars imagined through new video wall technology, providing a modern twist to what’s been a holiday classic.
Uptown, it took Baz Luhrmann a single wave of the hand to unleash Barneys’ Baz Dazzled Holiday spectacular. Ice skaters, dancing elfs, a marching band and two queens — one solar, one lunar — on the second floor balconies singing an opera version of Madonna’s “Holiday” lit up Madison Avenue for several minutes. Even Thursday night’s rain couldn’t dampen the festive spirit. “We shot ‘Gatsby’ in Australia, and it rained for seven days and we had to move to the studio,” Luhrmann said. “We shot ‘Australia’ in the desert and it rained.”
The event was choreographed to perfection, down to Mark Lee’s opening remarks. “Baz directed me,” the Barneys ceo said. “It was quite intimidating.”
Dakota Fanning missed out on the fun. “I got stuck in traffic,” she said. “It was the biggest bummer. I’ll just have to go and see the windows on my own.”
The actress made it to the postshow dinner inside a tent at Central Park Zoo. As was to be expected from the director responsible for such visual feasts as “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby,” the vibe was fairy-tale extravaganza — women on stilts in glittery gowns serving Champagne, the ground covered in fall foliage and a hidden snow globe speakeasy, where guests could sample wintry treats like passion fruit vodka in a snow cone. A capella group Pentatonix broke into Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy,” which led to a medley of Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child hits. The crowd included Victoria Justice, Pat Cleveland, Wendi Deng Murdoch, Lily Kwong, Michael Avedon, Lisa Perry, Victor Alfaro, Public School’s Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow and Maria Cornejo. The night ended with Luhrmann and wife Catherine Martin ripping up the dance floor while snowflakes drizzled down on the scene.