Among the 220 Lady Gaga-themed holiday gifts that went on sale on Monday night at Barneys New York was a shoe made of chocolate for US$95.
There are two ways to look at a US$95 chocolate shoe, part of what may be the retailer’s most outlandish bid at upending yuletide decorating traditions since it replaced Santa Claus with Sigmund Freud in a 1996 window display.
On one hand, it is an immaculately detailed replica of the armadillo-shaped Alexander McQueen design worn by Lady Gaga in the video for Bad Romance, at a fraction of the original cost (reportedly US$10,000 for the handful that were made). On the other, US$95 is a lot to pay for a chocolate shoe, and, much like a luxury store that is turning over an entire floor to knickknacks inspired by a pop star, it may take some rationalizing to swallow.
On Monday evening, Lady Gaga was certainly making an effort, with plans to keep the store open all night. She arrived at Barneys around 4:30pm, wearing a white Chanel tweed jacket over an exaggeratedly large teacup skirt, and gave very proper interviews in a space that had formerly been the fifth floor of the men’s store. The department, called Gaga’s Workshop, has been transformed with displays of cookies, books, press-on nails and leather jackets, all housed in cartoonish sculptures by the artist Eli Sudbrack, some of which look like her head.
The Workshop was conceived, designed and christened by Lady Gaga — 511m2 of bright colors, crazy shapes and a gigantic cartoon statue of the superstar herself in a pinup pose surrounded by jagged mirrors and sitting atop thousands of black plastic discs.
“There’s all sorts of affordable presents here, and they are guilt-free,” she said, sipping tea from a pearl-encrusted cup. (Barneys is selling a version of that cup with a matching saucer for US$65.)
A quarter of sales, through Jan. 2, will go to her new Born This Way Foundation, an anti-bullying campaign.
Among New York retailers, Barneys has a reputation for the most wickedly delightful holiday displays, and CEO Mark Lee said he wanted to go further this year by selling products. The store, which hopes to raise more than US$1 million for the foundation, expects to break even on the promotion, Lee said.
The designs are fascinating and slightly demented, as seen in an US$85 box of cookies shaped like her outfits, including a meat dress. Some items are seasonally appropriate, like black platform stiletto Christmas stockings for US$65. For the luxury customer, there are pieces from designers like Erickson Beamon, which made a necklace of crystal and jet beads that looks like a shattered disco ball (US$1,630).
Underneath an oversized, archlike spider, shoppers can get US$4,000 heel-less booties or US$50 heart-shaped sunglasses.
One of the lower-priced items, a US$35 spin toy in the shape of an egg that opens to show a Gaga figurine in a gold dress, plays on her arrival at the Grammy Awards this year inside an egg-shaped vessel, a deep-thought moment she has described as a metaphor for rebirth.
“Oh, it’s fun,” she said. “It’s the dream of what music and culture are all about, and those are things that can get lost when you focus too much on commercialism. This is, for me, a much more whimsical approach, a Pop Art approach.”
Additional reporting by AP