By Jenny Berg Posted August 14, 2012, 5:23 PM EDT
CHICAGO The area surrounding the Harris Theater had a distinctly British look Friday night as the downtown venue hosted Macy's Passport Presents Glamorama. Two men decked in palace-guard costumes flanked the entrance, and a nearby sign read “Keep Calm and Party On,” playing off the United Kingdom's iconic “Keep Calm and Carry On” signage from World War II. Inside, models wearing Royal Wedding-style hats strolled around offering samples from sponsor Luna.
Indeed, the event—which travels to four cities and comprises an hour-long fashion show and an after-party—took its thematic cues from across the pond this year. “2012 marks the 50th anniversary of both the Beatles' and the Rolling Stones' [rise to fame],” said Mike Gansmoe, Macy's vice president of special productions. “We wanted to pay tribute to the British Invasion and the effect these bands had around the world on culture and pop music. Their influence is still felt today, and it provides the inspiration for both our show and party.” After running in Minneapolis on August 3, the event travels to Los Angeles on September 7 and San Francisco on September 14.
The Chicago event took place in a new venue this year. For the past 14 years, Macy's hosted the Glamorama fashion show at the Chicago Theatre, then moved to the nearby State Street flagship store for the after-party. “This year we wanted to mix it up and try something new,” Gansmoe said. “The more contemporary theater space seemed to fit with this year's theme and fashions, and the [theater's] rooftop terrace in Millennium Park provided our guests a seamless transition from the show to the party."
Planners found a quick fix to one potential challenge of the new venue. The auditorium of the Harris Theater is underground, which can make accessing social media sites difficult. As members of the media checked in, Macy's representatives asked if they'd be tweeting or posting Instagram photos from the show; those who said they would be got printed-out passwords to access the theater's Wi-Fi.
Another kind of technology played into the fashion show itself. “Our lighting designer, Michael Murnane, has created an amazing lighting plot,” Gansmoe said. “It not only lights the models and talent, but it also is a spectacular visual show in itself. We have also created a unique video playback design. We wanted to create a semicircular LED configuration, rather than the typical flat configuration. Our rigging animation company, Show Distribution, built special curved I-beams in order to accomplish a circular movement of LED walls. I was very excited that they were able to accomplish this feat of engineering.”