When we launched the Barneys New York Foundation last year, it was with an aim to support the causes that are nearest to our hearts, which is why we’re so thrilled to be announcing today our latest effort through the foundation: a series of windows titled “We Will Be.” Dedicated to the concept of women’s empowerment—an issue we believe in wholeheartedly—the windows allow women to speak up and tell stories of support, encouragement, and hope. Our downtown windows present inspiring quotes from noteworthy female fashion designers, while our Madison Avenue Flagship windows feature original videos highlighting the voices of some of the world’s most successful and powerful women, captured by the women’s leaderships and media platform MAKERS, alongside the inspiring words of female students at New York’s High School of Fashion Industries.
“It was important not just to talk about women throughout history, but also to talk to today’s young women about what they think is possible,” says Barneys CEO Daniella Vitale, who herself is breaking barriers as the first female CEO of the company in its almost 95-year history. “Barneys has always been a voice of advocacy for equal rights and gender equality. It’s very important that we continue to voice that message, but to do it in a positive way. We want to show that not only are we a company that’s dominated by women, but we’re a company that really cares about these issues. Women’s empowerment, gender equality, and equal rights for all—that’s really what we stand for as a company.” She points to past partnerships and projects that Barneys has engaged in to support women’s rights, including those with Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn, The Girls Lounge, and STYLEFUND.
Vitale’s sentiments are echoed by Creative Director Dennis Freedman, who adds that the message of the campaign is especially vital at this moment in history. “Part of the DNA of Barneys is that we’ve always been involved in the social issues of our time—recently, marriage equality and issues facing the transgender community—and especially given the current political atmosphere, we thought it was important to send a message of support to women of all ages now.” That message, he says, is clearly conveyed by the windows themselves. “We’ve always viewed our windows as having limitless possibilities to communicate a message. Yes, they can communicate about fashion, but we aren’t just talking about clothes—we’re talking about the women inside the clothes.”
Our four Madison Avenue windows all display original video content. The first two windows were created in partnership with MAKERS, an organization that works to tell women’s inspiring stories through video. Two 20-minute short films include the empowering words of women like Gloria Steinem, Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alicia Keys, Helen Mirren, Michelle Obama, and more. “At MAKERS, we want to flood the marketplace with role models of women from all walks of life,” says MAKERS founder and Emmy-award-winning documentary filmmaker Dyllan McGee. “As Gloria Steinem and so many of our MAKERS have said, ‘If she can see it, she can be it.’ We want to make sure she can see girls today see these role models. We want to use our stories to shape the leaders of tomorrow.”
“We’re incredibly appreciative to MAKERS for allowing us access to some of the most extraordinary women of our time,” Freedman tells us. “You are listening to women speaking, talking about their lives and futures. We are letting women speak and giving them the audience of the street.”
Sharing that audience are the voices of 34 female students from the High School of Fashion Industries. Titled, “I Will Be,” each of the girls speaks to her hopes, dreams, and plans for the future, creating an inspiring message about how all girls have the opportunity to grow into future leaders and role models in society. Freedman points out that juxtaposing these young voices with the MAKERS video of more accomplished women also highlights the message of hope that the windows convey.
The last uptown window features a custom video of recognizable moments from history that spotlight strong women. Ranging from the world of sports to legendary films, from rock concerts to the Women’s March in Washington this year, the breadth of the content in this window emphasizes the many ways in which women have impacted society.
Turning an eye southward, for our Downtown Flagship’s windows, we’ve compiled inspiring quotes from some of today’s more influential female designers and paired them with the season’s newest looks from their corresponding collections. Designers featured include Isabel Marant, Nili Lotan, Maria Cornejo, Lisa Perry, and more. “Working with these designers shows that there’s a very powerful group of women who produce the product that’s in our stores, and we want to celebrate them,” Vital said of the powerhouse group. “We couldn’t do these windows without giving a nod to what we’re really good at, and that’s carrying the best designers in the world—many of whom are incredible women.”
The “We Will Be” windows are on display now and will remain open through the end of the month. Not in New York? Be sure to check out our YouTube channel to watch the short films in their entirety. And to further spread the empowering message, scroll on from some inspiring words from some of our favorite female designers.
“There is no right way to get where you want to go—just a right way for you.”
Winnie Beattie of Warm
“My sister is a single working mom with three kids under the age of 13. Those everyday women who are sacrificing and working so hard for others’ futures are my unsung heroes.”
“I believe that what you wear can transform your mood and how you feel about yourself, which in turn impacts how people perceive you, so I approach my designs by thinking about making women feel beautiful, strong, and empowered.”
“I design for every woman who feels free at heart. She doesn’t have to shout out her womanhood—she just is, and she loves it.”
“I want my designs to make women feel loved and powerful.”
“The intention of my designs is to give women a sense of personal armor. Jewelry can give women strength and individual power—even more then we already have on our own.”
Ann Dexter Jones
“The woman I design for is powerful, sensual, unafraid, potent, and knows what she wants the instant she sees it. She has an open mind and innate sense of herself. She doesn’t wish to be mainstream. She is a woman who steps up and out into her world.”
“Often, fear is the same emotion as excitement. Being scared is usually a good thing. It means you are breaking new ground. Fortune favors the brave.”
“Recently, my mantra has been, ‘Let it go to let it grow.’ For me, that means making space, not holding on too tightly, not wanting anything so badly that there isn’t room for it to grow.”
“I design for every woman. For all women. For myself, for those I love, for those I know and don’t know. For women near and far, wanderers, lovers, truth seekers, and change makers.”
“I feel most powerful when I conquer a weakness. It is always a journey, and most often, a difficult challenge. Once a weakness has been tackled, there is an overwhelming sense of freedom, strength, and ultimate satisfaction. It’s only me against me.”
“A woman’s beauty and self should be enhanced, not defined, by the clothes she wears.”
“My mantra? Keep going.”
“We feel strongest when we’ve made headway in expressing our vision—little by little, day by day. It’s empowering to build something that grows richer over time, as more thought, work, and collaboration is put into it.”
“My success has been rooted in my sense of reality—I think about real life and pieces that women are dying to wear every day. In the end, women want to feel great, stylish, and cool.”
Jane Mayle of Maison Mayle
“The ultimate goal is that a woman wearing Maison Mayle feels like a true protagonist in the story of her own making.”
Becca McCharen of Chromat
“The women you see on the Chromat runway reflect the woman we design for: inclusive of all races, abilities, body shapes, creeds, and places on the gender spectrum. They are unapologetic women not afraid to stand out while taking over the world.”
“I feel my most powerful when I’m balanced among my family, work, and friends—especially when I’m taking care of myself, which is the hardest.”
“My business grew because I was willing to take risks, and really to put myself and my creative vision out there. This is truly my passion.”
“The woman I design for is not a wallflower. She wants to be seen and heard and embraces her uniqueness and individual style. She feels empowered and can be heard saying, ‘I am woman, hear me roar!’”
Yoon of Ambush
“Being a woman and a minority, I will always be an underdog in the workforce. So I never take things for granted, never settle, and never stop. Keep your vision big and always stay hungry.”
Eva Zuckerman of Eva Fehren
“It’s miraculous that as humans we can dream of something and create it out of nothing, so I feel most powerful when I’m painting, creating, or designing. Being inspired is the most empowering feeling in the world.”