Make a 14-foot dragon out of paper. Transform dreams into sculptural form. Add to that the work of Alexander McQueen, Prada or Dior, and collaborations with institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. While you’re at it, make sure that the challenges come every couple of weeks, and that the results are seen by thousands every day. Then, you’ll have some sense of the creative work life of Demetrios Argyropoulos (BFA ’87).
As production manager for window displays at Bergdorf Goodman’s on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Demetrios takes full advantage of his creative training at Stamps to turn fashion’s driving ideas – from ethereal imaginings to holiday extravaganzas – into the physical forms that are the hallmark of this world renowned retailer. The range of themes and ideas for the windows is dizzying, from miniature museums to an upcoming window on “toxic gardens” for Dior. As a student, Demetrios took full advantage of the array of studio offerings—printmaking, sculpture, photography, performance with Pat Olezsko, and credits that range of interests with preparing him for dealing with the scope of his current work. His broad interest in media reflects his experience growing up in a family of artists. In fact, both of Demetrios' parents – Triantafilos (Andy) (BSDes '59 and MFA '61) and Meredith (BSDes '61) Argyropoulos – are Stamps alumni.
Outside of school, Demetrios cut his retail display teeth working first for Ann Arbor’s Middle Earth store, and then later, for Jacobsen’s at the Briarwood Mall. When he moved to NYC, he landed on the couches of U-M classmates Rodney Hill and Rachel Scott, in a utopian vision of a Williamsburg artists’ loft filled with creative characters.
Hired initially as a seasonal Christmas production assistant at Macy’s, Demetrios worked his way up to a contract as a freelance sculptor building whatever was needed for Macy’s windows, before moving to Bergdorf’s where he has been for 15 years.
In his current position as production manager for designer David Hoey, Demetrios takes an idea, often from a thumbnail sketch, into three-dimensional form, constructing 3D computer models, as well as physical prototypes, to direct the team that works to produce the Bergdorf’s famous window displays.
As a student, Demetrios was interested in creating scenarios, shots and lighting in studio photography. He sees his current work as inherently connected to those interests, linking the ability to have and execute a vision in the picture frame to the same ability in the window frame.
He also knows that managing people requires a different skill set then making something happen on your own, and he’s spent years developing resources — scouring the city for prop sourcing, learning what Bergdorf’s production facilities in Long Island City can build, and what custom objects need to be fabricated off site.
When Demetrios started at Bergdorf’s, he recalls that windows changed weekly, with plenty of all-nighters reminiscent of his late studio nights while he was in school. This breakneck pace was countered by the tempo of the December holiday windows that took up to a year to produce off site. Today Bergdorf Goodman’s windows change every couple of weeks, while many of their competitors are a seasonal four times a year.
With their high production values, you would think that the windows are used to sell products, but they are actually more of a branding tool than a selling tool. A customer’s identification with the beautifully produced scenarios featuring garments isn’t intended to cause him/her to say “I’ll take the one in the window in my size.” Rather, the discerning client base sees the windows as emblematic of the store’s creative identity.
The focus on the literal and metaphorical visibility of the windows has led to a concerted effort to bring the energy, ideas and ethos of the windows into the store’s interior, extending from the catalogues to the interior displays, colors and themes. Demetrios Argyropoulos is uniquely poised to facilitate these conversations, from creative inspiration to hands on problem solving — this Stamps school grad can do that too.