(NEW YORK) Nice move, Mark. Today, Barneys New York announced the appointment of Dennis Freedman as the retailer’s new creative director. He succeeds Simon Doonan, who is moving into the new role of “creative ambassador at large.” It’s OK to get excited. As the founding creative director of W, Freedman developed a trendsetter’s bible that transcended mere fashion book status by including inspirational coverage of art, beauty, design, travel, and lifestyle. His twenty-year relationships with photographers such as Mert & Marcus, Bruce Weber, and Michael Thompson resulted in an era of award-winning excellence that would make any masthead-topper just a bit jaloux. Along with his inner circle at W, consisting of fashion director Alex White and design director Edward Leida, Freedman turned the magazine into a creative laboratory. Memorable projects include Bruce Weber‘s photographs of elephants in couture by the likes of Balenciaga and Karl Lagerfeld, which hit the January 2005 issue, the then-shocking Steven Klein spread of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie en famille in July 2005, and of course, W‘s Art Issue, which debuted to great fanfare in November 2006.
A freelance consultant for fashion brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Freedman’s eye is carefully attuned to young brands at the point of popular explosion. (Although he attended only a smattering of New York shows during his tenure at W, he was front-row at Rodarte from essentially the Mulleavy sisters’ first offering.) Lisa Yuskavage named him one of New York‘s Most Beautiful People in 2005, around the time Freedman was profiled in the first issue of Fantastic Man (Spring/Summer 2005)—along with his dog, Jake, and his home in the Hamptons.
“For decades Barneys New York has stood for creative innovation,” said Freedman in a statement. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to lead the company forward. Starting from New York which is the most culturally dynamic city in the world, I will strive to incorporate modern creative energy into the Barneys brand in the years ahead.”
Freedman will be responsible for the “overall creative direction” of Barneys New York, including the Co-Op and Barneys.com. He will oversee all photographic and video images, graphic design, store design and image, and visual merchandising. He will also serve as “creative curator” of the retailer’s windows, engaging artists, designers, and collaborators (such as Doonan) for a “constantly evolving mix of style influencers.” Freedman will report directly to Barneys CEO Mark Lee. “Dennis is a visionary and innovator with great experience and talent across the worlds of fashion, photography, art, design, and architecture,” said Lee in a statement. “He will bring his tremendous eye and impeccable taste to lead the new creative direction of Barneys New York.” Indeed!