“Juergen, I’m not kidding,” Barneys Creative Director Dennis Freedman was telling the photographer Juergen Teller Tuesday night, as they stood before a massive photograph of Yves Saint Laurent on Madison Avenue. Mr. Teller, who shot the photo, had just stepped onto the black carpet leading into the store, wore a pair of running shorts to Mr. Freedman’s tie-less suit, and seemed open to compliments.
“These are some of the best windows we’ve ever done,” Mr. Freedman said. “The best!”
The windows marked a fusion of the top tiers in the worlds of both art and fashion—couture capital Barneys and the Athens-based Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, which offered five works from its destefashioncollection by Mr. Teller, M/M (Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak), Helmut Lang, poet Patrizia Cavalli and filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari. The destefashioncollection commissions works inspired by fashion each year and the windows offer eye-catching takes on the sometimes surreal elements of that world, Mr. Lang’s a sculptural empty front row at a fashion show, Ms. Cavalli’s an ode to a dress by Viktor+Rolf that prints itself out word by word.
The most eye-catching thing about Mr. Teller, however, was his just-from-the-gym outfit, topped with a black and white sweater. Upstairs on the ninth floor, where the party continued, he explained that he’d just come from shooting Rudolf Stingel for Marc Jacobs in Italy and had assumed it would be warmer here. “We climbed a 2000-meter mountain!” he said, indicating his sneakers with a hand that clutched a Marlboro pack on an iPhone. “I had a cigarette once I was up there. It only takes 2 hours to climb, so I didn’t have one on the way.”
Waiters bussed cones of French fries, Hellenic beer and gyros to the throng which for the most part clustered around a performance by the artist John Bock. In pale Addams Family makeup, Mr. Bock sat mutely on a group of tables, cutting up clothes from various piles, which he passed to assistants who recombined them with other tatters. This all involved a lot of public consideration, and even the destruction was deliberate—once he cut a pair of khakis down to the crotch and then, after a minute of thought, he went all the way through to cut them in half. The finished products he held aloft for applause.
Not far from here the collector and patron Dakis Joannou, who founded Deste, received a nonstop line of guests. He greeted Pierpaolo Ferrari, who shot the new disembodied fingers billboard, for Toilet Paper, just off the High Line “That billboard is amazing!” Mr. Joannou told him. “It went way beyond—it was like more than an image. It’s like you’re looking for the rest of the woman.”
Maurizio Cattelan wore standard black velvet, and Simon Doonan, the former Barney’s creative director and former Observer columnist, wore a low-key porkpie hat.
“This is very joyful and fabulous and fun for me because I get to be a cheering spectator and I didn’t have to organize it all,” he said, ducking behind a column after taking in Mr. Bock’s performance.
As for the new creative director, he stayed on the ground floor, greeting entrants until very late into the party. Upstairs the well-wishing continued and Mr. Freedman took off his jacket to display the Bockian elements of his outfit. What appeared to be an average colorful button-down under the jacket actually featured a sweater-vest shoulder and a forearm fashioned from some kind of dark sock.
“It’s like, this is Donna Karan,” he told New York editor Carl Swanson, gesturing to his own bare shoulder. He then made his way to the button-down, “This is Comme des Garçons,” then to the forearm, “and this is [Azzedine] Alaia.”
He was explaining how the partnership with Deste first came about, through various projects and proposed projects for W, where he served as creative director before coming to Barneys, when Christoph Gerozissis, director for Mr. Bock’s gallery Anton Kern, told Mr. Freedman that the artist had just completed the rest of his outfit onstage. Mr. Gerozissis then presented him with a pair of striped suit pants that had been modified with a bra somewhere around the ass. Protruding from this bra, two stuffed white socks dangled like sausage-y posterior antenna.
“Oh my God,” Mr. Freedman said when presented with them. Words, and fashion references, failed. “Holy shit. Oh my God. I don’t know if these are going to fit, but, you know what? If they don’t, I’m going to lose weight.”
Soon, Mr. Kern himself approached, looking thoroughly under-dressed in a simple black outfit with a gray scarf, joined by Angela Westwater. Mr. Freedman remained effusive, and started to think out loud about how he might repay Mr. Bock by introducing him to actresses for his projects.
“You know what I’m going to do for him?” Mr. Freedman said. “Don’t tell him, but we had a dinner once and he mentioned Winona Ryder?” Mr. Kern nodded. “I’m going to somehow get him Winona Rider.”
“He likes that,” Mr. Kern said. “Winona Rider, that’s the obsession.” Ms. Westwater attempted to slip the bra portion of the pants onto Mr. Freedman as the two spoke.
“But then I said, ‘I bet you’d like Natalie Portman,’” Mr. Freedman said, ducking a shoulder to help Ms. Westwater.
“Yeah! Yeah!” Mr. Kern said. “But really, Winona. That’s the one.”
“We have to figure out how to put them together!” Mr. Freedman exclaimed.
People burped gyros and started trickling out, and the caterers gradually had fewer things to do. A pair of them, in black ties, assured two young women that most of the time their lives were not like the TV show Party Down, but agreed that, yes, this night had been pretty similar to what they’ve been told that program is like.