Terror: So Hot Right Now!

Our fearless intern Michael Grynbaum went to the British Building yesterday to see how Target stores’ promo event would live up to its promise to turn the building’s facade into a “vertical runway.” He filed this report:

Consciously or not (and frankly, we’re guessing the latter), Target’s noontime fashion show at Rockefeller Center last Wednesday was more combat than couture. An unfortunate medley of bulky jackets, giant bull’s-eyes and a troublesome soundtrack—”Sex Bomb” was a poor choice—served as an unnerving reminder that with the city on high alert, even the mindless world of fashion can’t shake our summertime blues. (Or was that oranges? So hard to keep track of the alerts these days.)

Maybe Target was just looking for trouble. After all, plastering a major tourist spot with oversized targets wasn’t sending the safest of messages.

Neither, for that matter, was choosing to debut the chain store’s fall clothing line in the sweltering heat. Emo-thin models came strutting out in bulky parkas and faux-fur coats. Winter-wear in the summer sun? Isn’t that the first thing we’ve been told to look out for? Given their lily-white skin tones, we doubt any of the beautiful folk were patted down. But instead of attracting customers, they only attracted suspicion. Especially the ones carrying the nuclear-code style black suitcases. Eep.

The event’s organizers clearly hoped to focus more attention on something called a “vertical runway,” featuring well-dressed acrobats rappelling down the stone façade of the British Building on 50th Street, overlooking the Rockefeller rink. But the sight of suited men falling from the sky evoked at best botched outtakes from The Matrix—and at worst, a disturbing flashback to September 11.

Even scarier was the acrobats’ goateed German choreographer, Jochen Schweizer (at right), who could easily pass for a James Bond nemesis. Schweizer’s business card is a mini-CD-ROM complete with digital press kit; if supervillains carried business cards, this would surely be it.

Schweizer’s henchmen shaked and shimmied to the pounding dance music, at one point simulating a kind of mid-air coitus. “Do they get combat pay?” asked the journalist seated next to us. Bemused spectators couldn’t decide where to direct their sympathy: to the acrobats risking their lives for a publicity stunt, or to the models forced into wearing three layers in 100 degree weather. One poor soul waltzed out in a snow jacket, tweed blazer and wool pullover. The women in attendance sweated him—literally.

As the crowd dissipated, we wondered whether anyone else had detected the darker undertones lurking beneath Target’s bright lights and fall colors. (Fashionistas are, after all, somewhat superficial folk.) Most went merrily on their way, blissfully unaware that the tendrils of terror have crept their way into one of America’s last remaining strongholds: its moyenne couture. No matter—as long as Target keeps selling Isaac Mizrahi on the cheap, no one has to worry their pretty little head.

— Michael Grynbaum Terror: So Hot Right Now!