Window of Opportunity
For the second year in a row, the legendary Simon Doonan of Barneys New York has partnered with students of The High School of Fashion Industries to create holiday windows. This year the unveiling showcased pop icons like Beyoncé, Dolly Parton, Joan Jett, and Grace Jones.
The windows were donned with red carpets, people drinking hot cider, and a formal countdown. The first revealed a Madonna-like mannequin sitting in a tulle dress, “Vogueing” in a pop-art style portrait. Grace Jones came complete with cigarette, flat-top cut, and Keith Haring prints all over the box.
The Celia Cruz window showed a perfect tropical Christmas scene, with her image in the background, a feather, colored light tree, and everything tropical. Next I walked over to see the Beyoncé window, with mannequin front-and-center modeled after the queen herself, donned in the wide brimmed “Formation Tour” hat, with perfect mood lighting hitting her cheekbone.
Next was an equally accurate window of the lovely and voluptuous Dolly Parton in a pink window, with glitter accents, lollipops, and her biggest accents! Lastly, a Joan Jett mannequin stood front and center with an electric guitar. This team nailed the hair and outfit of the total rocker babe.
Student Sukari Webb, who is studying visual merchandising, said she learns how to successfully market a business through the visual presentation of a store.
“We learn everything from window displays, to store layout, and packaging design. This project was a final project for my classmates and me. Almost every day in class — whether we were picking the theme for the windows, or creating renderings and models — it was leading to the unveiling of the window displays.”
When asked about her future she said, “I would like to study visual merchandising, and later branch off into entrepreneurship. In the future I would like to help businesses create and develop the visual aspect of their brand. I would also like to own several successful business of my own. In addition to having a flourishing YouTube channel (kariwoo).”
I sat down with one of the advisory board chairs, Erica Roseman, in addition to Sukari, to discuss this success, the background of this holiday tradition, and future endeavors.
Q: How did the collaboration between the High School of Fashion Industries and Barneys (Simon) come about?
Barneys has been a longtime supporter of HSFI. In fact, the store had interns from HSFI during the Fred Pressman days.
Fred felt it was very important to give back to the community, and the school was a neighbor of Barneys in Chelsea. Simon has worked with the students for years, and last year he spent a day at HSFI being Principal for the Day. He enjoyed the students and vice versa. So the Advisory Board invited him to mentor the visual students. It was such a success, we were thrilled that he agreed to come back. Here are some of his tips for designing with holiday décor!
Simon Doonan’s Tips: 5 Do’s and Don’ts for Holiday Décor (for students, and everyone else too!)
1. Do … dare to be different, and have fun.
2. Do … use unexpected and unconventional elements. Example: cheapo copper pot-scrubbers from the hardware store make great Holiday wreaths. Old CDs make great tree decorations.
3. Don’t … feel you have to stick with traditional holiday iconography. Snowmen and reindeer are great … but so is Dolly Parton!
4. Don’t … forget that colored tree lights are more fabulous than white tree lights. (This is a pet peeve of mine!)
5. Don’t … forget to incorporate a revolving mirrored disco ball. Turn your living room (or window display) into a snow-globe!
Q: Will you partner with Barneys and Simon again next year?
Yes! We are hoping to make this an HSFI holiday tradition.
Q: What was Simon’s role in helping the teams?
Simon attended four classes acting as a mentor. He advised the students on concepts to creation. The students were divided into groups, and Simon worked with all of them very closely, lending his years of expertise.
For example, he had a lengthy consultation with one student about how to make Grace Jones’ flat-top hair perfect, and a long conversation with the Dolly Parton group about her outfit.
Q: Who attends the high school? Students who know they want to study fashion?
Students who have a strong interest in fashion can apply to HSFI. The curriculum includes traditional classes as well as fashion education.
Q: Who created the theme?
The students created the theme as a tribute to Simon and his legendary Barneys windows.
Q: Were there any limitations for the designers?
There were no limitations. Students were encouraged to be as creative as possible. This is their moment to shine!
The students did such a fabulous job, I cannot wait to see next year’s windows!