Macy's Gets Totally '80s for Glamorama's 10th Anniversary

For Glamorama's 10th anniversary, Macy's brought back the '80s with the help of Cyndi Lauper, Pac-Man, and Fun Dip.

The Glamorama after-party

Photo: Barry Brecheisen for BizBash

Now in its 10th year, Macy's Glamorama (formerly a Marshall Field's tradition) took place on Friday night. As the lights dimmed in the Chicago Theatre at the start of the evening's fashion show, a theme became apparent: From a set backed with Pac-Man graphics to a soundtrack peppered with hits from Prince, George Michael, and Michael Jackson, an '80s influence was demonstrably at work.

Cyndi Lauper and MC Hammer headlined this year's show, treating the audience of 3,000 to live renditions of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun“ and “U Can't Touch This"—respectively, of course—as models pranced out in designs from the likes of Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, and Tibi. Event sponsors also found a presence in the spectacle, with video logos and a full-length Chevy commercial appearing on a scrim that covered the stage before the show. During the show, an actual Chevy Corvette (painted an era-appropriate shade of teal) descended onto the stage in a cloud of smoke, becoming a prop in one of the scenes.

As a shower of star-shaped confetti (evocative of Macy's logo) signaled the end of the fashion show, some 2,500 guests headed to a Pop Candy Arcade-themed after-party that took over the store's seventh floor. 

According to Greg Moore, director of special events for Macy's East, Glamorama staffers have roughly one week to prepare the store for the after-party. “We work off an extremely tight deadline to magically transform the space without impeding sales in the store,“ he said. The week of the event, Macy's visual team adds signage, lighting, and backdrops to the space. “Then three days out, our visual, production, store, and special events team are all hands on deck to get the work done. That's when things get intense." 

By 9 p.m. on Friday night, the transformation was complete. At the party's entrance, vintage games like Q-Bert and Pac-Man stood in the midst of lounges stuffed with colorful bean bag chairs. Moore said that he and his team aim to make the after-party as interactive as possible; so along with playing video games, guests could dance across the FAO Schwartz keyboard used in the film Big, check out airbrush T-shirt stations, or have their makeup touched up by artists from Låncome, another sponsor.

Food followed thematic suit, occupying 25 stations with names ranging from “Bill and Ted's Excellent Edibles” to “Mr. Miyagi's Chop House.” The evening's specialty “Purple Mullet” cocktail was a juicy concoction that event sponsor Tropicana created especially for the occasion. In lieu of passed hors d'oeuvres, staffers sporting blue wigs circulated with Pop Rocks and Fun Dip; they also offered glow necklaces and slap bracelets to help guests accessorize.

Frost's Dennis Remer, who helped with the after-party's lighting and decor, said that challenges involved masking the store's existing (and decidedly un-'80s) features. In the Walnut Room, Remer covered a fountain with a 24- by 26-foot dance floor, lighting it with an array of track spots, lasers, pin spots, and disco balls. “The challenge there was to recreate an '80s dance club in this prestigious restaurant,“ Remer said. “It's the Walnut Room; usually it's oak, not Mylar." 

In Macy's Narcissus Room, where performers from Break Dance Chicago entertained, Remer masked yet another fountain with a giant spandex drum that he lit from within using color-changing LED technology. And where there was no Mylar, he brought his own, erecting a 90- by 12-foot silver curtain at the room's entrance.

Along with showcasing Macy's fall merchandise, Glamorama serves as a fund-raiser for the Art Institute of Chicago; this year, the event raked in $250,000 for the museum's auxiliary board and evening associates.

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