Review: Macy's Glamorama Rocks the Runway

Glamorama debuted under Dayton’s as A Cause for Applause in Minneapolis in 1992–a fashion show benefiting the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, culminating in an no-holds-barred after party on the rooftop of Dayton’s downtown store. It became known as Fash Bash in 1995 when Marshall Field’s acquired Dayton’s, and was renamed Glamorama in 2003. A year later, Marshall Field’s was sold and rebranded as Macy’s, which has produced the event ever since.

Boasting a rising star in pop music (past editions have featured a pre-“Blurred Lines” Robin Thicke and a post-Destiny’s Child Beyoncé Knowles), runway fashion segments featuring big-name American and European fashion designers, energetic dance choreography, and an audio-visual production to rival major stadium concerts, Macy’s Glamorama has long been the undisputed heavyweight champ when it comes to fashion shows in the Twin Cities.

On the production end, this year’s show at the State Theatre on Friday night did not disappoint. A highlight, as always, was the stellar runway and dance choreography by iconic Minneapolis choreographer Myron Johnson of Ballet of the Dolls fame, who’s been a vital part of the show since the beginning. Working with a zig-zagging, elevated runway this year, Johnson helped to give the show some of its signature chutzpah, and the show’s segment featuring an all-girl dance troupe wearing the new Hello Kitty for Macy’s kid’s line was a crowd-pleaser (as was a personal appearance by Hello Kitty herself, rising out of the set like the Messiah). The choreography, staging, and visuals worked wonderfully together throughout, particularly in a segment featuring psychedelic visuals projected onto ceiling-to-floor beaded curtains from which models emerged. And as always, the signature men’s underwear segment was a kitschy delight. Timed to the sounds of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a spotlight flashed momentarily on male models in Diesel skivvies, the lights going up as the chorus kicked in. (Freddie Mercury would be proud.)

The musical lineup was headlined by Jason Derulo, the R&B singer-songwriter and dancer behind songs-of-the-summer “Talk Dirty” and “Wiggle.” He performed an energetic, three-song set with a pair of athletic backup dancers to close out the show, displaying charisma, bravado, and some slick dance moves. The show also included a performance by Macy’s iHeartRadio Rising Star winners Before You Exit, a mostly-teenage pop boy band with some perfunctory guitar playing–sort of an odd inclusion considering the 30-plus Glamorama demographic.

But truth be told: This wasn’t the same Glamorama of yore. Take the decidedly more high-end designer lineup from 2007’s show, for example: It boasted Marc Jacobs, Temperley London, Moschino, Alberta Ferretti, Just Cavalli, John Varvatos, Michael Kors, and Calvin Klein collections hot off the New York, London, Paris, and Milan fashion week runways; subsequent shows included Jean Paul Gaultier and Sonia Rykiel. As the years passed, Macy’s added its affordably-priced, in-house lines like INC, Bar III, and Impulse to the mix, but hey–at least we had Marc and Jean Paul and Sonia and Alberta. But this year’s show made the shift in focus from high-end, major fashion week designers to Macy’s-branded lines all the more apparent, with only Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Max Mara remaining (albeit in diffusion-name-only). It’s disappointing for longtime fans of the show who have attended the show for the distinct thrill and novelty of seeing major fashion lines in the flesh, right here in Minneapolis. But it’s a savvy (or at least understandable) marketing move on the side of Macy’s.

Fall trends were on full display throughout the collections. The show show kicked off with Tommy Hilfiger’s fall 2014 retail line, a mix of hiking and outdoor gear updated for modern city life shown against a snowy mountain backdrop. Rugged references included high-peak parkas, shearling trim, canvas military-style jackets, Fair Isle sweaters, and hunter plaids. Next up: a black-and-white statement from Weekend Max Mara, with mod-inspired, oversized houndstooth prints, ingeniously styled with Debbie Harry-evoking platinum wigs to the Blondie tune “Rapture.” A men’s suit segment featuring Bar III and the new Macy’s line Ryan Seacrest Distinction featured contemporary, tailored silhouettes.

Spring’s bohemian vibe carries through to fall, as seen in the paisley and chevron prints on maxi dresses and jumpsuits in INC’s psychedelic segment and peasant blouses, fringed vests, and cowboy boots in Denim Nation’s country-meets-Woodstock scene.

Macy’s Impulse line followed with over-the-top headpieces and glittery frocks featuring a glam ‘40s-meets-‘70s vibe, while Calvin Klein returned to its ‘90s-era minimalist roots, showing slouchy sweaters and unadorned tank dresses in a neutral palette of black, grey, and white.

One one hand, it’s sad to see the high-end fashion go. On the other, kudos to Macy’s for continuing the tradition of the show, supporting long-time charitable partner Children’s Cancer Research Fund, keeping the production values high, and giving Minnesotans a great excuse to dress up.

Glamorama 2014 CCRF Ambassador Jack Serakos

Max Mara Weekend

Men’s suiting by Bar III and Ryan Seacrest Distinction

Before You Exit


Impulse for Macy’s

Dancers performing in Hello Kitty for Macy’s

Denim Nation

Denim Nation

Diesel underwear

Jason Derulo

Jason Derulo

Jason Derulo

Models dancing in the finale