Thursday, July 23, 2009
Sorry Barneys, Violence Doesn't Sell Couture
Creative Director Simon Doonan turned his back for a second and some display person with an underused art school education got crazy with the shenanigans. Barneys New York has removed a display playing on the theme "Dressed to Kill" that cause a major hullabaloo on E. 61st Street. White contorted mannequins flailing as they fend off invisible assailants with red paint splattered across the windows cannot be justified to the public by the inclusion of a Helmut Lang or A.L.C. gown. It's just that simple. Generally speaking, I've learned that people don't really like being directly confronted with unpleasant imagery.
Of course, the display itself isn't so bad (once you get past the disconnect between the supposed theme 'dressed to kill' and the fact that the mannequins appear to be 'dressed to be subjected to a horrific slaughter'), it's just not in the right location. Kid, you've got ambition, move your mannequins over to the MoMa, attach a thesis and you'll be all set. Lesson learned: what can be done in fashion magazine photo shoots cannot necessarily be reproduced in department stores. Retail and contemporary art (even in the swankiest of locales) can only merge so far. Try sex. I hear that sells better than violence...