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Customers the Stars in Latest Nygård Venture

Winnipeg Free Press 




FANCY playing a role in a fashion video for Nygård International?

Fashion czar Peter Nygård wants his customers to be the stars in a series of promotional broadcasts to be shown in his proposed store in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District.

The videos are part of Nygård’s Vision of making a mega-store out of two warehouses, at 100 Market Ave. and 100 James Ave., in the heart of the Exchange.

We’re going to bring fashion down to reality,Nygård said in a recent telephone interview from his 14,000-square-meter fantasy-park in the Bahamas.

He sees such videos as a way of encouraging customers to have fun with his fashions by going for makeovers, including makeup, hairstyling, and clothes.

Nygård has a vanity fashion TV network, called NFN, which is already broadcasting his fashion shows in his stores. His new vision is to add Winnipeg women’s makeovers and show them on a giant video screen at the Exchange store.

Clips from the local videos would be rolled in with footage of professional models in Nygård’s fashion shows, to make a package of fashion entertainment.

The new store will mark a return for Nygård to the Exchange District where he got his start in the fashion business, working out of a garment factory he bought on Adelaide Street.

He estimates the cost of the massive warehouse project at about $10 million.

Renovations will create a mega-store, studio space for NFN, and a showcase museum to celebrate Nygård’s rags-to-riches success story, with examples of fashions over the years. There will also be offices and residential lofts – in keeping with the city’s vision to turn the historic Exchange into an area where people can live, work, and play.

The centerpiece of his fashion museum is to be a building Nygård calls his Canadian homestead – a ramshackle 195-square-foot coal shed where the family eked out its first winter in Canada 50 years ago. It was trucked into Winnipeg yesterday from its original site in Deloraine, 300 kilometres southwest of the city. It’s parked outside the Nygård International design offices at 1771 Inkster Blvd. Nygård said the new store is likely to open in 2005. It will take until 2008 for everything else, like the museum, to be put in place, he said.

The Exchange District, the commerce centre of a century ago, is in the midst of a renaissance after decades of neglect, with many former warehouses having been converted to fashionable lofts and offices.

The effect will be to revitalize the historic core of the city, Nygård said, just like Gastown did for Vancouver or South Miami beach did for Miami, and to boost business by rejuvenating historic areas that had fallen derelict from neglect.

The city has done a nice job in developing it and being a catalyst and for me. It’s a great opportunity to jump in and add our little piece to it,Nygård said.