Saks Fifth Avenue Honors Amazon Shows With Five Fashionable Windows

Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue
Saffron Burrows and Malcom McDowell

Malcolm McDowell, Saffron Burrows and others turn up to talk style and storylines amid today's political climate.

When you’re working on a TV show that gathers buzz and a few awards since its premiere, borrowing clothes gets a lot easier: Consider the pleated black jacket Malcolm McDowell was wearing at Saks Fifth Avenue on Thursday evening. “It’s Issey Miyake,” explained Katie Riley, costume designer for Mozart in the Jungle, in which McDowell stars; the Golden Globe-winning series kicked off filming for its fourth season this week. “We’re using a few of his things this season, and he’s been very generous with us,” Riley said of the Japanese designer.

“Katie takes good care of me,” McDowell noted. “And she doesn’t like to spend money, this one. She’s very careful with her budget. I’ll say, ‘How did you get me jeans by James Perse, they’re $600!’ And she’ll say, ‘Oh, I got them on sale, 60 bucks.’ She’s brilliant.”

Riley’s work on Mozart, together with four other Amazon shows — Transparent, Patriot, The Man in the High Castle, and Z: The Beginning of Everything — have captured the spotlight in five windows at Saks Fifth Avenue’s New York flagship as part of an Emmys For Your Consideration promotion, with each display marrying costumes and production design from each series with current-season fashion. “They’re really honoring the genius of people like Katie, who do so much with so little,” McDowell said on the red carpet, which preceded a cocktail party on Saks’ second floor. The windows will be on display through Thursday, June 29.

The decision by the upscale retailer to highlight shows featuring often-unconventional storylines was an easy one, said Mark Briggs, chief creative officer for Saks Fifth Avenue. “One of the key things to understand is that we constantly try to push the boundaries and merge the retail experience with today’s lifestyle experience,” he said. “These five shows offer you something very, very different, and we wanted to mirror that. At the end of the day, the world is a very different place now, and we wanted to capture the essence of these stories within each window while showcasing both fashion and design.”

Indeed, just minutes before the event’s red carpet kicked off, a protest of Senate Republicans’ controversial AHCA health care bill streamed through the Midtown neighborhood, with chants of, “Hey hey, ho ho, Trumpcare has got to go!” filling the air. “We’re moving into a new age of corporate responsibility, and it’s so important that places like Saks Fifth Avenue create space for shows like Transparent,” said Zackary Drucker, a producer on that Emmy-winning series.

Mozart in the Jungle star Gael Garcia Bernal agreed — though he admitted the concept of the Saks windows was a little lost on him. “I live in Mexico, so I may not be the right person to talk about the scope or the dynamics of what all of this means,” he said, gesturing to the displays behind him. “But what I love about the show is that we’re talking about music in a way in which we could be talking about anything. It’s a very special, heightened discussion about the human condition. Music gives you all those colors, so it’s still very political, in that sense, because it’s a tangent.”

“I love the freedom of the show,” added Saffron Burrows. “And that extends to the costumes. [The producers] have allowed us to come in with an idea and go with it. I’ve met a couple of really irreverent cello players whom I’ve based my character on, so it’s really fun to film an orchestra rehearsal in which I’m wearing jeans and Isabel Marant boots and a T-shirt and lots of jewelry, stuff never meant to be seen in a concert hall.”

Like their respective storylines, each show seems to approach its style in non-conventional ways, and the actors in attendance Thursday night clearly appreciate that the behind-the-camera work is being celebrated. “I’m thrilled that our designers are getting attention, because wardrobe and set and production design do such an incredible job of creating an entirely alternate world,” said The Man in the High Castle’s Brennan Brown, who agreed that his show’s storyline — based on a Philip K. Dick novel, about what America might be like if Japan and Germany had won World War II — resonates today beyond pure entertainment with audiences.

“Ultimately everyone wants to put something into the world that gives people hope or gives them strength,” Brown said. “This story happens to feel relevant, and it’s not that we’re trying to make it relevant; it just is. No matter what you’re contributing, all of us are just trying to honor the story as well as we can.”