On a cold winter day in New York, there’s nothing like strolling past the holiday windows of upper Fifth Avenue. Luxe retailer Bergdorf Goodman mounts the ne plus ultra of window extravaganzas, and this year Fashion Illustration faculty member and alum Carlos Aponte, Illustration MFA ’21, is a creative force behind one of them.
The project began in June when David Hoey, who directs the Bergdorf windows, reached out to Aponte. Hoey envisioned a building exterior with a view inside the apartments, and cats sitting on the fire escapes. Someone proposed including an artwork that portrayed a cat, and then the ideas started flowing, Aponte says. “Once I began sketching it was obvious that all the rooms needed to be about cats. … Suddenly the concept turned into a massive cat dollhouse.”
“I had to design 15 apartments, and I decided to make each one different to show the diversity of the city of New York—classical, retro, Latin-inspired, etc. I sketched all the ideas. Once they were approved, I did a color version.” The apartments would be rendered in 3D, with exaggerated perspectives, and foam-core models were created. Once those were approved, they were printed in color and assembled. “I’ve never done paperwork in 3D, so this was an opportunity to be creative outside the flat image,” Aponte says.
Look carefully at the finished product for witty details, like a painting of a cat made to look like an Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe portrait. There’s also a Roman emperor feline bust and a Picasso-inspired Cubist kitty. “I was very proud of creating a pattern to make a disco ball out of paper that really looks like a disco ball,” Aponte says. “It took me a while to figure that one out.”
The window was certainly a team effort, with contributions from Bergdorf artists Carl Tallent and Sebastian Montoya. Artist Samantha Smith created the furry cats that clamber across the composition. And Aponte learned something as well. “I had no idea how to do this project,” he says. “Having no idea of how to do something opens the possibility of play, and play leads to other creative realms.”
You can see a video of the display on Aponte’s Facebook page: