HOLIDAY “MAGRITTE-INGS” FROM FIT! (OR, THINGS JUST GOT WEIRD)


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The holiday season came early this year at FIT: This week, a Surrealism-themed pop-up shop, “Holiday Bizarre,” touched down in the Pomerantz Center lobby, featuring designer fashions selected from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Thrift Shop—“the Bergdorf of thrift stores,” according to Anne Kong, Display and Exhibit Design ’77, assistant professor of Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design. The shop is open from 12 to 8 through Saturday, November 23, and all profits go to cancer research, education, and patient outreach.

“Thrift store shopping is not just a trend,” Kong said. “With Beacon’s Closet, Housing Works, and Buffalo Exchange, it has become a new channel of retail experience.”

The storefront of “Holiday Bizarre,” created by students in the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Department. The Merchandising Society is staffing the shop.

The space didn’t pop up out of nowhere. Earlier this year, the MSK Thrift Shop worked with two VPED classes, led by Kong and Adjunct Assistant Professor Mary Costantini, to invent and execute a retail concept to bring secondhand fashion to FIT. One of the classes, on “point of sale,” teaches pop-up shops; the other involves building installations for visual merchandising.

There was no shortage of fun proposals: a gingerbread house, an antique circus, an homage to Bryant Park holiday shops, everything purple, and more. But the Surrealism idea won out for a few reasons. First, it reflected the artistic bent of the School of Art and Design. Second, it didn’t hew to any particular religion. Third, it coincided with an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art about René Magritte. Fourth, it had a killer name.

“Originally it didn’t have the name, and I said it needed one,” Kong remembered. “When the students came back with ‘Holiday Bizarre,’ everything changed.”

Shopping at the “Holiday Bizarre” is totally surreal.

The students had three weeks and $4,000 to build it. They crafted a storefront to look like picture frames and made eyeball ornaments out of beach balls. The details are all there, too: hand-printed hang tags, customized shopping bags, a Magritte shower curtain for the changing room, and other surprises.

They also worked with the thrift shop to curate the merchandise for the FIT community. (Net-A-Porter also donated new and slightly damaged pieces.) Considering a pair of Louboutins already went for $550, Hue thinks they got it right.

Update: The final sales tally after five days was a whopping $35,000. Bravo to all involved!

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