NEW YORK TIMES - FASHION AND STYLE

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Barneys’ Holiday Party Designed by Baz Luhrmann
NOV. 14, 2014

Thanksgiving turkeys aren’t yet in the oven, but the Rockettes were already kicking, the Empire State Building was lit up red and green and, over on Madison Avenue, Barneys’ holiday windows were unveiled on Thursday with ice dancers, step-troupers, opera singers, a cappella warblers and two break-dancing elves.

The author of this merriment was Baz Luhrmann, the director of spectacles like “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby” and fashion’s current auteur on speed dial. (He is fresh from directing a Chanel No. 5 commercial with Gisele Bündchen, and before that, was a creative consultant to the Met’s 2012 Prada/Schiaparelli show.)

The spectacle will continue for several weeks (there are fewer than 50 shopping days until Christmas!) with opera singers appearing at Barneys balconies at intervals like a viva voce cuckoo clock or live-action Advent calendar.

After the unveiling ceremony, a flock of Barneys faithful adjourned to the Central Park Zoo, where the store hosted a dinner party designed by Mr. Lurhmann and his wife and collaborator, Catherine Martin, as sea lions barked in their tank outside. The pair also worked on a “Baz Dazzled” collection of gifts to be sold at Barneys.

“I’m still a little overwhelmed,” the actress Dakota Fanning said as she made her way through a Potemkin forest erected for the occasion. Stilt-walking women poured Champagne (“It’s from Champagne,” one assured a guest as she swooped from above, bottle in hand), and a gentleman in critter ears and tail carved a buxom ice sculpture. “It feels like a Susanne Bartsch evening,” the designer Maria Cornejo said.

Holidays in the Fanning home, Ms. Fanning went on, were a bit more modest: Every year, her younger sister, Elle, gives each family member a new ornament to be placed on an ornament-only tree. “My grandfather knocked it over last year,” she said. “We had to frantically search the Internet for the ones that broke.”

Christmas in the Luhrmann/Martin residence is a more elaborate affair. “This is kind of low-key,” Mr. Luhrmann said. “We go all out for Christmas. C. M. takes it very seriously.”

Ms. Martin (C. M. to friends) surveyed the scene approvingly. “I’ll probably snaffle a few of the props from tonight,” she said.

They will spend the holidays in New York, where a white Christmas is still a novelty to them.

“A cold, snowy Christmas has romance,” said Mr. Luhrmann, who like his wife is Australian. “Where I’m from, Christmas is 110 degrees.”

Meanwhile, artificial snow was falling and sticking to every coat and collar.

After dinner under floating tapers, Pentatonix, the five-member a cappella group that had christened the Madison Avenue windows earlier, leapt up onto a table and performed a Beyoncé medley.

“I have the most mortifying secret obsession with a cappella,” the actress Jessica Joffe said as the crowd filed out. “It’s my dirty, dirty secret. It made me very happy. It was delightful.”

As dessert circulated, delight was to be found all around.

“Oh, my God, Joffe,” cried her friend Hailey Benton Gates, an actress. “Is that ice sculpture a luge?”