LOS ANGELES The runway at Macy’s 26th annual Passport fashion show and AIDS fund-raiser last Thursday doubled as a dance floor of sorts, serving as a stage for as many dancers as it did models. The show, which is known for its spectacular catwalk antics—unicycle stunt riders and a live horse have taken the runway in past years—relied heavily on dancers this year to inject the presentation at the Barker Hangar with what producer Larry Hashbarger refers to as its trademark “theatrical elements.”
Brian Friedman, who has choreographed routines for artists such as Janet Jackson and Britney Spears, served as the choreographer and creative director for the dance sequences, which included salsa numbers, a routine performed on a moving staircase, and a piece that paired MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew winners Jabbawockeez with a group of 14 children.
A Levi’s segment converted the runway into a New York City subway setting, complete with projections of speeding trains, as well as performers popping out of steaming manholes, drumming on upturned buckets, and passing out fliers to audience members in the first row. The public transportation setting was a nod to the late Keith Haring, who got his start as a graffiti artist in the city’s subways. This year, Macy’s partnered with the Keith Haring Estate, which assists AIDS-related charities, to commemorate what would have been Haring’s 50th birthday. (He died of AIDS in 1990.)
In addition to influencing the look at the fashion show, Haring’s art was also the inspiration behind the theme at the V.I.P. reception and after-party in a tent, where Along Came Mary’s Cynthia Lopell created a pop art playground, blanketing the space with replicas of his work. Haring’s recognizable figures hung on walls and from a giant mobile, and a pattern of brightly colored shapes from Kinetic Lighting decked the tent's ceiling. A black and white section toward the back of the space acknowledged the period when the artist created work primarily using those colors.
For the first time, Macy’s will present this year’s fashion show in 27 movie theaters across the country on October 23. The film will feature edited segments from Thursday’s show, as well as a specially taped version, which incorporated performances from the Pussycat Dolls, Fall Out Boy, and Ne-Yo. Ticket sales will benefit local AIDS charities. “We wanted to really extend our fund-raising and awareness around HIV/AIDS and to really give it a national platform,” Hashbarger said. “The show is so complex that we really can't tour 27 cities, but we can create a special visual and dynamic visual experience that can be shown on movie screens across America.” The department store hopes the film will help elevate Passport’s status to that of its Thanksgiving Day parade and Fourth of July fireworks special, and has plans to distribute the film to 100 cities next year.