TIPS FOR THE FASHION CHALLENGED

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Old Navy may have Carrie Donovan, but Barneys New York is out to build a media goddess of its own: Judy Collinson.
Barneys will launch a new ad campaign this Sunday that makes a pseudo-celebrity out of Collinson, Barneys executive vice president and general merchandise manager. The ads will break in the Style sections of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and will run for 14 weeks.
Called “Ask Judy,” the campaign will feature a caricature of Collinson by Tim Groen, with fictional questions posed to her, along with her tart replies. One ad reads: “Dear Judy, I am nude. Hurricane Floyd blew 15 years of fashion purchases out of my closet and into the Hudson river. Help! Freezing in Nolita.”
Judy’s advice?
“Dear Freezing, Throw a garbage bag over your head and vamp your way to the Barneys Co-Op. If security tries to remove you, drop my name. Replenish your old moth-eaten wardrobe with Daryl K, Katayone Adeli, Helmut Lang Jeans, etc, etc. And thank Mother Nature for doing you a huge favor.”
Another ad says, “Dear Judy, My room-mate is driving me crazy. She covets everything I wear. I don’t enjoy my own clothes anymore. Irate, Mineola.”
Judy says: “Dear Irate, Your room-mate has successfully sucked the joie-de-vivre out of your closet. There is only one solution: admit defeat, let her have all of your clothes and replace your entire wardrobe at the Co-Op. I cannot guarantee that she will not repeat the whole gruesome process. Have you thought about a new room-mate?”
Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys, who developed the campaign, said the motivation behind the campaign was listening to Paul Harvey on the radio, reading Dear Abby and Liz Smith. “I thought it would be great to run a little column that blurs the boundaries between editorial and advertising.
“Judy’s the bossy fashionista,” said Doonan. He said there will be a few introductory ads and then it will become more product specific, such as “Are shrugs in or out?” or “Should I wear a poncho this season?”
“I’m writing it and I’ll inject my alter ego in it. People will read them if they’re tart-tongued, whimsical and unexpected. She’s feeding me with fashion direction and trends, and we’ll be making fun of trends that people jump on.”
Doonan said he expects people will “go to see what Judy has to say every week.”
“We’ll make her a little icon,” said Doonan.
“She [Judy] is a fashionista in the way of Diana Vreeland, Polly Mellen and Carrie Donovan. She’s an updated version of it. We’re using Judy’s persona. She’s our head merchant and was brought up very well. She’s well-mannered, unassuming, very creative and very product-focused,” said Doonan. At first, Doonan noted, Collinson was reluctant to give those kind of replies, but then she came around.
“It’s a rather odd experience having my face and Simon Doonan’s voice,” said Collinson, reached in London. “I kept saying, ‘but Simon, but Simon…’ I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to have her picture taken.”
Asked if he feels these ads resemble what Donovan is doing for Old Navy, Doonan said, “Carrie tends to give an exhortation on what to buy. This is somebody sending a whiny letter with urban conundrum and spitting back replies, giving people fashion direction.”

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