Barneys New York, the specialty luxury retailer, holiday windows and facade of Madison Avenue were unveiled yesterday to display a BAZ DAZZLED wonderland, a collaboration with world-renowned writer/director/producer Baz Luhrmann and designer Catherine Martin. A multi-platform initiative, BAZ DAZZLED merges the iconic visual language of Luhrmann’s award-winning film work with the legendary wit and surprise of Barneys New York. Luhrmann and four-time Oscar winning production and costume designer Martin, along with the Barneys New York team under the lead of Creative Director Dennis Freedman, have taken traditional holiday themes and turned them upside down into a world of fantastical characters, enchanted environments, and luxurious, metallic textures.
“From the first time my wife Catherine Martin and I found ourselves in New York back in the ’80s, we always marveled at the way Barneys took the familiar and managed to turn it on its head. This way of seeing the world is somewhat akin to our own creative philosophy,” said Baz Luhrmann. “Here we are now, so many years later in our adopted home, honored to join the pedigree of artists, performers, and creative organizations which have collaborated with Barneys, to take the familiar and turn it on its head.”
The tradition of holiday storytelling was at the center of the collaboration, conceived by Luhrmann, Martin, and the Barneys New York creative team. In this mythical BAZ DAZZLED world, classical woodland creatures come to life in an urban environment: a contortionist b-boy elf, a wise old ‘True Owl’ who speaks the truth, a graffiti-ing squirrel who makes use of his gold spray paint through Barneys and beyond, and Celestina the ice princess, eternally skating and longing to be set free—with the whole mythical world ruled over by the Luna and Solar Queens. Inspired by Luhrmann and Martin’s extensive background in film, opera, theatre, and music, the expected becomes unexpected, the classic becomes modern, and the static comes alive in a series of live performances and interactive theater. Each window presents a snippet of these characters’ stories, expressing the Luhrmann and Martin ethos of “Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love.”
“BAZ DAZZLED has allowed us an opportunity to bring theater to Madison Avenue,” said Barneys New York Creative Director Dennis Freedman. “By integrating live performance into the windows, we are breaking the traditional mold of holiday windows for an exciting and unprecedented experience.”
Barneys New York, Luhrmann, and Martin have collaborated with breakout a cappella group Pentatonix—comprised of vocalistsScott Hoying, Kirstie Maldonado, and Mitch Grassi, vocal bass Avi Kaplan, and beatboxer Kevin “K.O.” Olusola—who exclusively scored and recorded custom versions of classics for this collaboration. In addition to scoring the windows with original vocals and arrangements of classic holiday carols, Pentatonix provided actual vocals to several characters.
Costumes for the characters in the BAZ DAZZLED world have been created by designer Zaldy in collaboration with Oscar-winning production and costume designer Catherine Martin. All performance elements featured in the windows were directed in collaboration with Luhrmann, Martin, Barneys New York, and Andrew Katz.
After the unveiling, guests including Baz Luhrmann & Catherine Martin, Richard & Lisa Perry, Mark Lee, Amy Sacco, Aurelie Bidermann, Dakota Fanning, Dao-Yi Chow & Maxwell Osborne of Public School, Deborra-Lee Furness, Dennis Freedman, Estelle,Giovanna Battaglia, Jessica Joffe, Kate Foley, Lily Kwong, Meryl Poster, Michael Avedon, Pat Cleveland, Simon Doonan, Victoria Justice, Wendi Deng, and Zani Gugelmann made their way to the Central Park Zoo for an intimate dinner.