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Art Group at TriBeCa Pop-Up Needs More Cash after Lady Gaga Stylist's Show

By Julie Shapiro | November 1, 2011 7:04am

TRIBECA — The art group behind the pop-up spaces on Walker Street this fall is scrambling to raise money to finish a series of displays after over-spending $30,000 on its first exhibit by Lady Gaga stylist Nicola Formichetti.

The BOFFO Building Fashion series, which pairs fashion designers with architects to create one-of-a-kind temporary retail spaces, hopes to raise at least $20,000 on Kickstarter over the next two weeks to ensure that the last two exhibits in the series go forward, co-founder Faris Al-Shathir said.

"We're in a predicament," Al-Shathir said. "The whole series is being compromised."

The trouble started shortly before Formichetti's futuristic exhibit was scheduled to open at 57 Walker St. during Fashion Week, when BOFFO found out that the space wouldn't be ready in time.

The nonprofit was lucky to secure a different space across the street at 50 Walker St., but it was twice as big, which meant that it cost designer Gage/Clemenceau Architects twice as much to build the mirrored environment in which they had planned to house Formichetti's creations.

The two-week September exhibit wound up being wildly successful, drawing thousands of people to see Formichetti's outrageous Lady Gaga outfits, along with Formichetti's own T-shirt and jewelry collections, all inside the Gage/Clemenceau Architects space that looked like a shattered disco ball.

But at the end, BOFFO was left with only about $40,000, rather than the $80,000 needed to fund the remaining four pop-ups, Al-Shathir said.

The group decided to go ahead with the next planned shows and moved back to 57 Walker St. for a late-September Irene Neuwirth jewelry exhibit in a mock-underwater environment by architect Marc Fornes, followed by the current show, with clothing by Patrik Ervell in a found-object environment by Graham Hudson.

That left almost no money for the final two shows: The Lake & Stars, a lingerie design show in a space by SOFTlab scheduled to open Nov. 10, and women's-wear designer Ohne Titel in a space by EASTON+COMBS scheduled to open Dec. 1.

While Al-Shathir is concerned about the project's future, he is also heartened by the positive response on Kickstarter over the past week, with 83 people donating a total of more than $6,800.

"We're creating these exciting environments people can't see anywhere else," Al-Shathir said. "It pushes the boundaries."

In addition to being a form of public art, the pop-ups also serve as retail shops for emerging designers who have never had their own store and they give work to young architects who will now have a stronger portfolio, Al-Shathir said.

"It's almost like we're doing business development," Al-Shathir said. "All these young fashion brands are looking to grow."