Baz Luhrmann Unveils Wonderfully Insane Barneys Holiday Windows

It was a party done as only the Aussie director knows how — completely batsh*t insane, in the best way.
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Tyler McCall
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It was a party done as only the Aussie director knows how — completely batsh*t insane, in the best way.
Luhrmann poses as the Central Park Zoo. Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Luhrmann poses as the Central Park Zoo. Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

If you've ever seen a Baz Luhrmann film, or viewed Catherine Martin's costume designs up close, you know the husband-wife duo doesn't really do "subtle" or "understated."

It's what makes the collaborative couple a perfect match for Barneys New York, as the three collaborated together on the retailer's 2014 holiday windows and gift line. In a city where each department store is trying to outshine the competition, the holidays are all about making things big and bright — which happens to be Luhrmann and Martin's specialty, as they proved at Thursday night's unveiling.

A little rain wasn't going to damper the occasion outside Barneys' flagship on Madison Avenue. Under a banner which read "A life lived in fear is a life half lived," a cappella group Pentatonix performed Christmas carols as the whole story of the windows unfolded. The concept is so outlandish, it's really best summed up by the release: "a contortionist b-boy elf, a wise old ‘True Owl’ who speaks the truth, a graffiti-ing squirrel who makes use of his gold spray paint through Barneys and beyond, and Celestina the ice princess, eternally skating and longing to be set free — with the whole mythical world ruled over by the Luna and Solar Queens."

Standard Thursday night at Barneys, really. Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Standard Thursday night at Barneys, really. Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

As the whole thing hit its crescendo with the Luna and Solar Queens performing an operatic cover of Madonna's "Holiday" from the balconies above, confetti cannons fired into the air  — it was something that could have come straight out of one of Luhrmann's films (more like the joyous scenes towards the beginning than the heart-wrenching ones towards the end, of course).

Then a lively drumline lead party-goers to the Central Park Zoo just a few blocks away, which had been turned into a magical forest (real-life fairy Dakota Fanning fit in perfectly) complete with wood nymphs on stilts and a man dressed as a fox carving an elaborate ice sculpture. Dinner was held under a Hogwarts-worthy canopy of branches and floating candlesticks, tables and chairs nestled in a thick carpet of leaves. 

I half expected Dumbledore to give a speech before dinner. Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

I half expected Dumbledore to give a speech before dinner. Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

And when Pentatonix ended dinner by standing on their chairs to perform an incredible Beyoncé medley and an encore performance (demanded by Luhrmann) of Ariana Grande's "Problem," guests took to the dance floor — none more enthusiastically than Martin herself. Oh, and that ice sculpture? Turns out it was a fancy ice luge from which guests could take shots of liquor — which I did, in the name of journalism.

Baz Dazzled, indeed. It was, all in all, the perfect kickoff to the holiday season. Check out photos from the celebration and preview the Barneys New York holiday windows below: