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In a press release that hit inboxes about half an hour ago, Barneys New York announced that Simon Doonan will no longer be serving as Creative Director. Instead, he'll be Creative Ambassador-at-Large, a new role that should play to his strengths as the most public member of the company. Doonan will host events, represent the brand in both mainstream and social media, and continue to lend his touch to important window displays.
CEO Mark Lee, who has been making waves with his aggressive staffing decisions since the November ouster of two longtime executives, has already selected a replacement to fill Doonan's extremely dapper shoes. Starting January 17, former W editor Dennis Freedman will begin acting as Creative Director, overseeing everything from the store's general image to specific windows.
Since this is a serious bombshell, we'll let the store explain the decision in its own words. Here's the full press release, minus only the paragraph at the end giving basic background on Barneys:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BARNEYS NEW YORK PROMOTES SIMON DOONAN TO NEW ROLE OF CREATIVE AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE
DENNIS FREEDMAN TO JOIN BARNEYS NEW YORK AS CREATIVE DIRECTOR
New York, NY, January 10, 2011 - Barneys New York, the luxury specialty retailer, announced today that Simon Doonan has been appointed to the new role of Creative Ambassador-at-Large effective immediately. In his new role, Mr. Doonan will continue to be a key media spokesperson for the company, will continue to contribute to special window projects, will host special events with customers and media, and will serve as roving ambassador with links to all creative and communication areas including social media.
"Simon has been an intrinsic part of the Barneys DNA for close to 25 years. I am thrilled to work with him and to have him continue to bring his unique wit and multifaceted talents to Barneys in this new role of Creative Ambassador-at-Large,” said Mark Lee, CEO of Barneys New York. Mr. Doonan, the world's most renowned window display creator, has been designing windows for Barneys New York since 1986. His windows, a mix of entertaining kitsch and ironic critique of pop culture, are legendary. Mr. Doonan has served in various roles in marketing and communications at Barneys, most recently serving as Creative Director. “This exciting evolution of my role at Barneys is brilliant. Change has always been integral to the strength and vibrancy of the Barneys brand. I am delighted to be part of this new chapter," said Simon Doonan. In his new role, Simon will continue to report directly to Mark Lee, Chief Executive Officer, and work closely with all members of the communication and creative teams as he has in the past.
The company also announced today that Dennis Freedman will join the company as Creative Director effective January 17, 2011. In his new role, Mr. Freedman will be responsible for the overall creative direction of Barneys New York, including the Co-Op and Barneys.com, providing leadership in the areas of all photographic and video images, graphic design, store design and image, and visual merchandising. Mr. Freedman will also serve as creative curator of the Barneys New York windows, engaging various artists, designers, and creative collaborators including Simon Doonan for a constantly evolving mix of style influencers. He will report directly to Mark Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Barneys New York. "Dennis is a visionary and innovator with great experience and talent across the worlds of fashion, photography, art, design, and architecture. He will bring his tremendous eye and impeccable taste to lead the new creative direction of Barneys New York", said Mark Lee.
Mr. Freedman was most recently at W magazine, where he spent nearly 20 years as the founding Creative Director transforming it into the benchmark for fashion magazines around the world. As a leader in the fields of fashion, design, and art, Mr. Freedman is celebrated for marrying the three mediums and revolutionizing how fashion is presented. Legendary photographers Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Steven Klein, Mario Sorrenti, Craig McDean, David Sims and Juergen Teller have all collaborated with him. In addition, he commissioned original work from contemporary artists such as John Baldessari, Maurizio Cattelan, Richard Tuttle, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Richard Prince, Roni Horn, and Matthew Barney. His rebranding of W magazine earned the publication dozens of design awards including three National Magazine Awards for Photography. Mr. Freedman’s influence extends into the world of design and interiors. His own collection of 20th century furniture has been featured in prominent international publications. "For decades Barneys New York has stood for creative innovation. I am thrilled by the opportunity to creatively 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,” said Dennis Freedman.
· Two Longtime Execs Out at Barneys; Is Simon Doonan Next? [Racked NY]