Man About Town

Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war. This war talk’s spoiling all the fun at every party this fall. If anyone says war one more time, I’ll go in the house and slam the door!

America’s New War? I know all about it. But I need a break! We’re not all wearing sackcloth and ash quite yet, thank you very much. Fortunately, a few folks are still striving for a little glamour. Like Isaac Mizrahi, Simon Doonan and Jerry Haggerty.

The Roundabout Theatre enlisted Mr. Mizrahi to design the costumes for The Women. My faith in Broadway is renewed with the return of this icon of fierce fashion and arch, witty repartee. The play, I mean. It opens Nov. 8, but I wrangled a second-row spot at the first preview. The cast is first-rate, but Jennifer Tilly deserves a special mention. Her shower scene was … a revelation, to put it mildly. (That’s definitely a blond wig she’s sporting.)

But Mizrahi is the real star. The PR people have put the gowns front and center. Maybe it’s their way of saying, “Don’t worry. The show’s fabulous. We did not update it. I mean, Isaac Mizrahi, OK?” Broadway is indeed on the mend.

And those stores we’re told to visit? Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Barneys. Mr. Doonan is scurrying around, finishing up the windows. This marks the creative director/New York Observer columnist/best-selling author/bon vivant’s 15th year as the mastermind behind tout Manhattan’s favorite holiday rite.

His Confessions of a Window Dresser, newly in paperback, should be required reading for every one of you. We talk so much about creative development, with so many boring results. But Simon is a creative revolutionary and the brains behind all of Barneys’ communications. No wonder it’s so integrated: He writes the ad copy, runs the display machine like a benevolent dictator and totally lives up to that creative director title.

“I don’t have carte blanche,” he says from his secret production enclave. “But I’m my best critic. The deal with Barneys is, ‘Taste, luxury, humor.’ ” Much of the latter comes from the windows, he says, and this year it’s a traditional approach: “Take icons like Santa, the elves and reindeer and give them a complete 360.”

I’ll say. A giant Rudy the Right On Reindeer head. (Yes, that Rudy.) Celebrity elves like Elfish Presley, Dostoelfsky, Liza Minelfi, Shields and Yarnelf (my favorite), Nelfson Mandelfa and Missy Elfiot. The pièce de résistance (by Isabel and Ruben Toledo) will be Trixe, the World’s Largest Tree Topper. Boggles the mind.

They’ll also have a huge Yuletide Yard Sale on Dec. 29 benefiting the Twin Towers Fund, with everything from the windows up for grabs. Join me in front of Barneys next week and watch as the displays are built. It’s one of the best performances in the city. “Just because the store is chic-er than hell doesn’t mean the windows can’t be Coney Island,” says Doonan.

Another fun factory at the other end of the spectrum is the Calvin Klein building on Seventh Avenue. “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy” ricocheted through my head as I entered. Fortunately, the people who manage the brand are as warm as the image is cool. We don’t see much traditional advertising from Calvin Klein Home, but its showroom is the best sales tool ever. As Mr. Haggerty (director of new-business development, Design Works) explains, “Our customer is not the end user but the retailer.” So they throw the doors open twice a year for their valued clients.

Want brand management? All 17 floors open on the same tableau: white sofa, simple tables, three-foot-high glass vases one-third filled with water (no more, no less!) and two calla lilies or spigs of chamomile. The choice “depends on the directive flower of the season,” says Haggerty. Sheesh. “Oh, by the way, we have approved fruits as well.” Basque pears, green apples, walnuts. (Walnuts? A fruit?)

It’s a strict adherence to brand ID and execution at every step, particularly retail. Haggerty remarks, “We work extremely closely with Calvin Klein Inc. throughout all stages of development to find the exact right resources for them.” And find them they do.

Get a load of their color palette. Sugared Violet is the ne plus ultra. Smoky Aubergine. Blood Orange. Sheer Amethyst. Moon (very light blue). Mer (very, very light blue). And countless others. “I like the black ones,” I timidly remark. Haggerty responds, a tad too quickly, I think: “Do you mean Reptile?” Yes, I do.

Consumer confidence may be down, but it’s up, up, up at this place. New sheets and towels will be a centerpiece of my individual war effort! As ads blanketing Manhattan for the new Absolutely Fabulous episodes shout: “You can’t buy happiness. But you can bloody well charge it!”

See you at the stores!