As a student studying Fashion Business at FIT I know the Herald Square Macy’s a little too well. With it right in our backdoor (it’s a mere five blocks from campus) professors seem to come up with any excuse to make us take a field trip there.
We are often forced to parade around the crowded sales floor with pen and paper in hand, filling out worksheets or taking notes on the merchandising techniques. Typically, the Herald Square Macy’s is packed with unorganized herds of people, all going in different directions. But on April 11th the whole building seemed to come to a stand still, as everyone quickly became mesmerized by the runway event, “NICOPANDA Ball,” that took over the ground floor of the store. Although this event was not a surprise to all (many fans came after they saw their favorite influencers who were set to walk in the show announce the event on their Instagram), it definitely caught many unsuspecting shoppers by surprise.
It was called a ball and not a runway because the “models” did a lot more than just walk. A whole group of voguers, from both the House of Mugler and the House of Ninja, flaunted around the catwalk in matching panda print two-piece sets. The rest of the “models” were not the stoney-faced models you would normally expect in a runway show either.
The “models” chosen for the show were a group of twenty or so members of Nicola Formichetti’s (the owner and founder of NICOPANDA) inner circle, many of whom are queer. Formichetti made this point clear when he said, “We cast our incredible friends from all walks of life, different shapes, sizes, genders, and ages. It was important to shine a spotlight on diversity and inclusively while we had such a huge stage at the biggest department store in the world, Macy’s.”
With the lack of diversity and inclusivity that exists among most of the runway shows that dominate the fashion world, the level of consideration Formichetti took when casting his show was well needed and definitely appreciated.
The “NICOPANDA Ball” may have been an exciting and gag worthy performance, but the real star of the show was the new makeup line that served as the basis for the whole event. The runway was somewhat of an announcement (or celebration) of the new NICOPANDA x MAC collection, which hit stores that same day.
The collaboration is unlike any of the other celebrity and brand collaborations that MAC has done before, as this one is uniquely genderless. With gender boundaries shifting fast, many people are fed up with the gender segregation that still defines many fashion and beauty brands. And while Covergirl’s first male spokesperson was a step in the right direction, it was not quite the leap we were looking for.
Luckily, NICOPANDA is here to change all that, as the collection is specifically designed for many of the queer and gender nonconforming people who often find themselves overlooked by big beauty and fashion brands.
The collection doesn’t fall back on the predictable masculine aesthetic that usually trumps most unisex lines, instead it is full of color, showing that everyone deserves to show off who they are, no matter what gender stereotypes might suggest.