Creative director Simon Doonan along with art director and vice president of advertising Lina Kutsovskaya take StyleList through the surprising pages.
The mailing has a split personality, with two main "stories" shot by legendary photographers. Peter Lindbergh, renowned for his black-and-white images, opens with "The Virago," an evocation of strength and sensual magnetism.
The provocative Swiss artist Walter Pfeiffer brought "The Domestic Goddess" to life with vivid colors and a sexy surreality.
Standard warm-weather signals go out the window. Doonan emphasized, "at Barneys we approach every aspect of retailing -- windows, ads, merch, store design -- in an unconventional way. We like to make lists of things other stores would generally never do and then do them ALL!"
Hence the spring catalog's shadows, jumbled interiors, flamboyant makeup and potato peelings.
Lindbergh's signature chiaroscuro brings a bassline moodiness to "Virago." Shadows lap at the models; light catches on gleaming satin or the sheen on a flexed thigh.
With their high-piled, disheveled hair and smoky eyes, the women look as though they slid down a chimney and landed in fantastic frocks.
Pfeiffer's pages, on the other hand, flare with saturated color, light and madcap energy. Kutsovskaya carefully studied Pfeiffer's gallery and commercial work before developing possible scenarios with him. She wanted the Barneys shoot to be in tune with both his current direction and his earlier, now-iconic shots.
In the resulting images, model Constance Jablonski plays a toy accordion, peels potatoes and brandishes a chef's knife. Doonan recalled, "it almost seemed like a parody of the old domestic goddess idea from the '70s. She is clearly a woman on the verge."
Working with such artists was a pleasure as well as an honor, Doonan found. "I was surprised to discover than Lindbergh was such a sweet, fun-loving dude. His work is so tough, I expected him to be a bit grim and remote. He is a delight. Ditto Pfeiffer." Kutsovskaya chimed in: "Walter's spontaneity and decisiveness is incredible!"
And which designer's work ended up on the front cover? Phoebe Philo's latest effort. "How about those Celine pants!" raved Doonan. The high-waist, wide-legged linen trousers are anchored with thick wooden-platform wedges.
On styling, Doonan confessed, "we look at how it was done on the runway and then use that as a springboard. Sometimes we go a little bit higher than the designers would prefer. But they love us anyway."
Barneys New York Spring/Summer Catalog
Take a peek behind the scenes of the provocative new Barneys spring/summer catalog, shot by two legendary photographers.
Courtesy of Barneys New York
Phil Walter, Getty Images
And get a sneak peek at another spring catalog.