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Catching Up With Nicola Formichetti at Gaga's Workshop

Shop 'til you drop, Nicola!

Readers, if you haven't yet been to check out the recently-opened Gaga's Workshop at Barneys New York, now's the time. With its larger-than-life art installations, chic sweets, and jaw-dropping jewelry, the pop-up's a definite holiday-season highlight here in NYC.

While stopping by to check out the Gaga-themed goodies yesterday, I bumped into the Mother Monster's stylist and on-call collaborator Nicola Formichetti, who was clutching an overflowing shopping basket. But wait—wouldn't Gaga's right-hand man have had ample time to browse and buy at the prior night's press event? "I couldn't really concentrate yesterday!" he laughed. "I really wanted to shop, but I wanted everyone else—the fans—the get that opportunity first." He willingly handed over his basket and let me snoop through his picks, from bejeweled press-on nails to ring pops—most of which he plans to gift to his friends in Japan and L.A. And though most of his favorite Gaga's Workshop offerings tend toward the sweet and sugary, he said, "I'm really loving the hair bows at the moment. Gaga actually made all of us test them out by wearing them ourselves!"

Clearly, the Lady herself had an active role in every step of the pop-up's development. "It was amazing," Nicola explained. "She'd wake up in the morning with a sudden idea, like, 'We have to have bubble bath!'" Sure enough, the workshop sells luxe, tassel-topped bottles of the stuff. "Even her mom Cynthia got involved," he added.

The Tokyo-born editor/stylist told me that Barneys originally approached him and Gaga about working on a shop-in-shop a full year ago. And although the planning process spanned about six months' time, most of the actual construction was completed in just five (very busy) weeks. Formichetti served as the artistic director for the store's Gaga-centric window displays, and worked closely with artist Eli Sudbrack and avaf (assume vivid astro focus) and Gaga herself on the pop-up's array of festive products. "Dennis Freedman [Barneys New York's Creative Director] was amazing to work with," he said. "He comes from the magazine world, as do I...so we really wanted to create a sort of 3-D magazine here. It definitely wasn't the stereotypical way of working—he really let us do our thing."

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