When it comes to holiday windows, Barneys New York knows how to up the ante. Last year, its flagship store invited shoppers and sidewalk gawkers to peek into Lady Gaga’s twisted, cartoonish version of Santa’s workshop. Two years ago, the department store celebrated food and its kin with elaborate culinary windows replete with edible food. And in 2009, Barneys New York creative director Simon Doonan gave SNL the royal treatment for the holiday treatment with larger-than-life 3-D caricatures of famous cast members in honor of the show’s upcoming 35th anniversary.
This year, it’s no exaggeration that Barneys got Disneyfied. That adjective is usually a pejorative, but in this case, it’s accurate. Barneys CEO Mark Lee unveiled its holiday 2012 windows on Nov. 14 with some help from Disney CEO Bob Iger, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tinker Bell and Minnie Mouse. After a brief introduction, LED screens situated on the lower two levels of the building’s façade showed “Electric Holiday,” a short animated film that follows Minnie Mouse as she longingly window shops at Barneys, only to find herself eventually walking the runway along with some of her best cartoon friends. Adults will appreciate the remarkably spot-on drawings of Ed Filipowski and Linda Evangelista, while children will delight in the fact that it is truly a Disney production.
When the Disney-Barneys holiday window partnership was announced in August, expectations were set as high as the tallest spire of Cinderella’s castle. That bubble of anticipation was punctured slightly by the highly stylized image of a stretched-and-thinned Minnie Mouse that WWD ran in late October. Parent groups rallied against the transformation of an already-petite children’s icon that they argued would set a bad example by becoming too thin. Barneys defended the illustration, stating that it was taken out of context.
Disney and Barneys released a joint statement to New York Daily News explaining their skinny Minnie.
“We are saddened that activists have repeatedly tried to distort a lighthearted holiday project in order to draw media attention to themselves,” the statement read. “They have deliberately ignored previously released information clearly stating this promotion is a three-minute ‘moving art’ video featuring traditional Minnie Mouse in a dreamlike sequence set in Paris where she briefly walks the runway as a model and then happily awakens as her normal self (above) wearing the very same designer dress from the fashion show.”
Once the dust settled, all eyes were trained on the Madison Avenue flagship store. Their windows, unveiled today, heighten the allure of Disney, the company that serves up dreams to all on a silver platter. But for the next month or so, at least, one needn’t travel to Orlando or Anaheim to feel the magic. Or, for that matter, to Paris for Fashion Week.
As Minnie Mouse dreaming her way to the catwalks of Paris Fashion week in “Electric Holiday,” she meets essentially anyone who is anyone in the fashion industry along the way. There are cartoons of no less than Sarah Jessica Parker, Pat McGrath, Alber Elbaz, Carine Roitfeld, former Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière, Daphne Guinness, Cathy Horyn, and more featured throughout the film.
The Walt Disney Company worked on the film for over a year. As for the collaboration, the family-friendly was eager to take part in the famed New York Holiday season alongside Barneys.
“We thought, ‘A huge force in fashion and a huge force in animation. What better than for these two companies to get together and do something for the holidays?’” Luis Fernandez, senior vice president of creative for Disney Consumer Products, told WWD.