2001-2011: Glamorama’s Change in Hands, Blockbuster Performances

By Jenny Berg August 16, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Photo: Bob Carl and Heidi Brill

Glamorama became a Marshall Field’s tradition in 1998. Taking place in the retailer’s Chicago and Minneapolis locations, the late-summer event included a fully produced fall fashion show with a performance from a big-name act, followed by an over-the-top after-party at the department store.

In 2006, Macy’s Inc. took over the Marshall Field’s chain, but kept the event—and its flamboyance—intact. “There were no major changes,” said Andrea Schwartz, vice president of media relations and cause marketing for Macy’s north and Midwest regions.

In its inaugural year, Macy’s Chicago Glamorama offered a performance by a sequin-clad Beyoncé. A shower of confetti shaped like stars—the Macy’s logo—poured down over the audience at the fashion show’s conclusion. An ensuing Tokyo-themed party saw goldfish tanks embedded in the walls and drag performers dressed as fortune-telling geishas.

Subsequent years saw just as much production. The country-themed 2007 event, which included a performance by Gretchen Wilson and the duo Big & Rich, let partygoers ride an electronic bull at the in-store after-party. In 2008, the event took an ’80s-themed spin: Cyndi Lauper and M.C. Hammer performed, and the party had vintage arcade games such as Q-Bert and Pac-Man—as well as a specialty tequila cocktail called the “Purple Mullet.”

In 2010, the event was renamed Macy’s Passport Presents Glamorama. Mike Gansmoe, the Minneapolis-based vice president of special productions for the Macy’s Parade and Entertainment Group, explained: “We took two of our iconic fashion events—one of them being Glamorama, the other being Passport—and melded them into one over-the-top production.”

Gansmoe said the decision was prompted by a desire to “take both of the shows to the next level.” Macy’s Passport events had traditionally taken place in Los Angeles and San Francisco. To produce the hybrid event, “We combined the [Macy’s] creative teams from San Francisco and the Midwest, and took the best elements from both shows to create one über-cool event,” Gansmoe said. Passport productions had included dance sequences, while the Glamorama events offered a headline performer.

At last year’s Chicago show—the city’s first Macy’s Passport Presents Glamorama—Macy Gray sang, and a high-energy dance number accompanied a presentation of the new Material Girl clothing line, an exclusive-to-Macy’s collection designed by Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes. Dancers also appeared in front of a screen that showcased video-game characters doing the same steps; the number promoted sponsor Kinect for Xbox 360.

Cee Lo Green will perform at this year’s event, but this time, Schwartz said, “apart from new talent, theme, and things of that sort, the format will stay the same.”

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