CHICAGO On Friday night, in the minutes leading up to Macy's Glamorama—an annual event that combines a fall fashion show at the Chicago Theatre with an after-party at Macy's on State Street—models scrambled backstage to pull on designs from the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier and Sonia Rykiel. Meanwhile, Miss Piggy fielded interviews from local reporters in the theater's downstairs lobby.
The style-conscious Muppet began the fashion show by riding onto the stage aboard a chauffered motorcycle. “Miss Piggy is, as you know, the very first fashionista, so how could you not include her in a show?” joked Macy's vice president of special productions Mike Gansmoe. It didn't hurt, he added, that “Marc Jacobs had the good grace to design a dress for Miss Piggy for Glamorama, and every time she came out onstage during rehearsal and during the show, I couldn't stop myself from smiling. It was just a really fun element.”
Now in his 21st year of planning the annual fashion event—which also served as a fund-raiser for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana—Gansmoe said that his main challenge is to come up with new ideas to keep the spectacle fresh each year. “When people walk in the door, they don't want to see the same old show,” he said. ”So the question becomes: How do we raise the bar? What's the new wow?”
Unprecedented elements of this year's show included an onstage water curtain, which poured down on male models as they posed in Papi underwear while “It's Raining Men” blasted out over the theater's speakers. Gansmoe and his team also turned to projections to create new visuals. “In the past,” he said, “we've used video and they've always been projected over LED screens, which give a very finite surface.” This year, “we literally filled the proscenium of the set, which at the Chicago Theatre is 30 feet by 70 feet, with images. So whatever surface we were projecting on would create a new and different look for each segment.”
Ultimately, the show's visuals included flowers unfurling on fringe curtains during the Marc Jacob segment and patterns swirling across chain-link curtains during the Philosophy by Alberta Ferretti portion. Gansmoe also planted security cameras backstage to capture behind-the-scenes footage that was projected onto giant star-shaped screens during the Sonia Rykiel presentation.
Apart from the eye-catching Papi underwear presentation, entertainment throughout the show included performances from R&B artist Ne-Yo, pop singer Jadyn Maria (who's “going to be huge in a few months, so we're lucky we had her now,” Gansmoe said), and jazz trio the New Standards, who delivered a down-tempo take on Britney Spears' “Poison" during a presentation of fall fashions from Sportmax.
After the fashion show, which drew an audience of 2,900, some 2,000 guests headed to an after-party at Macy's on State Street. On the department store's seventh floor, the event offered Patron-tequila-sponsored bars and buffets piled with everything from mini shrimp po' boys to pastel macaroons.
Interactive after-party tropes included a station devoted to accessory art, where artists painted bracelets onto guests' wrists; games such as virtual golf; and makeup stations sponsored by Q-Tip and manned by artists who used the product to touch up partygoers' eyeliner and lipstick. Guests also stayed busy on a dance floor that spanned the center of the store's Walnut Room restaurant, busting moves to DJ Mel DeBarge's pop-driven soundtrack that sampled artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson.
With ticket prices ranging from $50 to $1,000 (lower ticket prices only provided admission to the fashion show) the event raised $200,000 for its partner charity.