Saturday, August 6, 2011

In review: Macy's Glamorama

Text by Beth Hammarlund, founder & creative director, l'etoile magazine
Photos by Corey Tenold, exclusive to l'etoile magazine

Macy's annual fashion presentation Glamorama is one of the most anticipated spectacles of the year - a chance for Minnesotans to see runway design as it is meant to be seen. This annual benefit for the Children's Cancer Research Fund brings high fashion to Minneapolis, showing collections ranging from Armani Jeans to Sonia Rykiel.

This year's benefit, subtitled "ARTrageous," featured live music by Far East Movement and headliner Bruno Mars, as well as choreography by local legend Myron Johnson, founder of Ballet of the Dolls and creative director of the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis. Though Johnson delivered his trademark dynamic choreography, his choices were fairly predictable, the opening number consisting of the done-and-done mash-up of ballet and hip hop dance. Perhaps Glamorama isn't the best environment for envelope-pushing dance, but it would have been exciting to see the legendary artist take more risks.

The collections themselves were well-modeled and styled, but due to the auditorium seating of the Orpheum Theatre, most audience members were too far from the stage to appreciate the details. When Far East Movement and Bruno Mars performed, swooping cameras on cranes captured close-ups which were projected onto large screens. This production element could have beautifully enhanced viewing the collections, allowing attendants to truly appreciate the craftsmanship of the work being presented.

Following the opening dance performance, the first collection to hit the stage was that of iconic French designer Sonia Rykiel. The styling successfully captured the eccentric attitude of the knitwear icon's aesthetic, while presenting her pieces as wearable and consumer-friendly fashion. Next, models strutted in cocktail dresses and suiting by fellow Parisian Jean Paul Gaultier, the styling toned down from the original runway but still maintaining the essence of Gaultier's original presentation. Tracy Reese's '70s-influenced city glam collection was a major winner with the audience, but the finale collection by Marc Jacobs felt oddly brief - almost like an afterthought.

[Sonia Rykiel]

[Sonia Rykiel]

[Jean Paul Gaultier]

[Tracy Reese]

[Marc Jacobs]

[Karl Lagerfeld for Impulse at Macy's]
[Bar III]

The chic presentation of womenswear clashed awkwardly with the way the menswear was shown. Whenever a male model removed his sunglasses or flashed a smile, audience members screamed like bachelorettes at Chippendale's. Though the display left me feeling a bit embarrassed, I couldn't help but gasp during the showcase for Miami-based men's underwear line Papi. The crowd erupted in whoops and hollers as the entire stage was taken over by male models in tight boxer briefs, sporty knee socks, and oiled, sinewy muscle.

[Armani Jeans]

[Kenneth Cole Reaction]


The after-party, held on the eighth floor of Macy's Nicollet Mall location, presented a great opportunity for people-watching. Party-goers' outfits ranged from conservative to risqué and traditional to fashion-forward. A body-painting booth adorned women's bare shoulders with reproductions of Andy Warhol's iconic Marilyn Monroe portrait, while groups of girlfriends lined up in a queue that wrapped around corners to have their photograph taken in a chicly styled photo booth. The "ARTrageous" theme was referenced in slideshows projected on multiple walls, though the selection of featured art included such a wide variety of works that it lacked cohesion, reading a little too much like Art History's Greatest Hits.

Despite the few technical issues and over-emphasis on entertainment over fashion, Minneapolis is still lucky to have such a high-profile, high-production event as Glamorama year after year, injecting the Midwest a welcome dose of international style.

[Bruno Mars]

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