“There’s hardly anyone who’s lived in New York City who doesn’t have a Barneys moment,” says Barneys Creative Director Dennis Freedman, speaking of the bond between Barneys and our hometown. Now, for the first time, the intertwined histories of both are being showcased in a new coffee table book from Rizzoli entitled, simply, Barneys. “By going back to the beginning, you get an understanding of how it all began,” Freedman continues. “Everyone who reads and looks at this book is going to discover surprises.”
Freedman began the project by engaging one of Barneys’ core stratagems: the power of collaboration. The book owes its distinctive layout to the design firm Sagmeister & Walsh, while Vanity Fair contributor David Kamp wrote the book’s forward. The book’s historic imagery comes alive through the words of Christopher Bollen, novelist and editor-at-large at Interview magazine. “When you look back to see all the people that have contributed over all these years to building the brand, it’s a history of New York City,” Freedman says, referencing the legendary New York artists and celebrities featured in the book alongside the work of photographers like Steven Meisel, Corinne Day, Nick Knight, Juergen Teller, Bruce Weber, and Mario Sorrenti, all of whom created iconic Barneys New York ad campaigns.
Bollen echoed these sentiments. “The book presented an opportunity to really see how New York was built, through the lens of this store that started in a tiny shoebox of a space in one corner of Manhattan and really grew into something more,” he says of the brand’s undeniable presence in New York culture. “Barneys managed to build a renown as a mecca of cool,” Bollen continues. “Growing up, it was where all the people I was obsessed with went to buy their clothes. It appealed to anyone who had that thirst for New York. It’s always been aspirational, but to a specific person who was maybe alternative and artistic.”
Between the tales of Andy Warhol shopping at the original Chelsea location and the stories of an endless stream of New York men who made a Barneys New York pilgrimage on the hunt for their first major purchase—a Bar Mitzvah suit—the book makes one thing clear: It doesn’t get any more New York than Barneys.