Have you ever seen a painting so vibrant that the figures seem to leap out of the canvas? At the Hammer-stein Ballroom in New York last summer, they actually did.
For its holiday gift-package launch, Parfums Givenchy had asked David Skovron, owner of New York-based DSA Productions, to use a painting by the contemporary American artist LeRoy Neiman as part of the decor theme for the event. The painting features the Givenchy boutique in Paris.
Skovron knew his design had to be original. "The guests-fashion and fragrance editors-go to a zillion events," he says. "I would have been dead in the water with a cookie cutter idea."
To impress the sophisticated guests, Skovron designed a giant 3-D version of the painting. He then recruited New York-based production services company Entolo, which provided a 20-by-30-foot aluminum screen and a raked stage 8 feet off the ground to serve as the canvas. Next, scenic designer Patrick Fahey of New York rendered a version of the background of the Neiman painting including the facade of the Givenchy boutique. This version was then transferred to a Pani slide and projected onto the screen. To re-create the foreground in 3-D, Entolo custom-built the characters in the painting out of industrial foam board and placed them on the stage.
To complement the giant "painting," the team created an outdoor atmosphere. "When you walk out of the Givenchy boutique in Paris, you face a park; so I covered the area around the stage in fake grass," notes Skovron. Keeping with the park theme, he brought in 200 benches from New York-based Central Props. Leaf-pattern lighting, achieved with a gobo, rounded out the outdoor atmosphere.
However, the vast amount of space formed a challenge in preserving this intimate park feel. "The Hammerstein has room for 2,500, and this event was for only 200 guests," says Skovron. To make sure guests didn't feel lost in the giant venue, Entolo placed colorful 28-by-12-foot theatrical flats around the circumference of the room. "It pulled everything together and centered the attention onto the stage," Skovron notes.
In addition to the flats, Skovron created intimacy by hiding the venue's high ceiling. "Givenchy gave me 17 of its couture gowns to use as part of the decor," he notes. After putting them on dress forms, he suspended the dresses above the flats. Each dress received a single spotlight; otherwise, the ceiling remained dark.
"The gowns arrested your vision, creating a false ceiling," Skovron notes. "It was a real smoke and mirrors endeavor-all without the use of flashy technology or special effects."-T.M.