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Friday, May 3, 2013

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's

ashes bergdorf poster
I attended a screening of stylish new documentary, “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s” last night.  I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy a movie about a store at first, but quickly came around. 

Every woman in New York or visited the city who loves fashion aspires to shop at Bergdorf Goodman.  As a fashion designer at Parsons School of Design, every student aspired to be sold at the luxury department store.  What I loved about this movie was that it did indeed interview designers who are sold (or were rejected) from the store and their own story of what Bergdorf’s meant to them.  Parsons alumni Marc Jacob and Jason Wu were featured as were the European designers’ stories of coming to their ideal of American prestige.

My personal memories are of writing "shopping reports" in school to sketch and note the trends we saw in the store.  Later, as a design assistant, I would have to buy (and often return) pieces that would be used as inspiration.  When I worked on 57th street, I would pop in for an escape during my dreary day of plebeian apparel to look at something glamorous.   I may not have been able to drop a few thousand dollars on a single clothing item, but would indulge with some cosmetics or treats so I could walk away with my pale purple bag...

ashes bergdorf linda fargo

The person that every designer needed to impress is Linda Fargo.  The power she holds in the livelihood of a fashion designer’s career is often compared to Vogue editor Anna Wintour.  However, the film makes a point of showing Linda’s warm smile and her approachability.  Ally Hilfiger and Nari Manivong were showing them their new collection in hopes of being carried by the store.  While Linda decided not to pick the label up, she gave encouragement and constructive advice.  Whether any new designer would receive this level of attention (if they were not the offspring of Tommy Hilfiger, and cameras were not recording the event) is doubtful, it gives some insight into the process.
bergdorf holiday 2011
The eye candy segment of the movie came in the form the 2011 holiday windows.  I remember gazing at these windows at night and losing myself in the glamour and art.  The documentary followed creative director David Hoey’s process of bringing luxurious fantasies to life.  One got to see the workshop, the sketches and the artisans who painstakingly created props by hand to accompany the fashion in his vision.  I always love seeing the process of creativity.  See close up detail of what went into the windows was a treat.

Celebrities like Joan Rivers and Candice Bergen recalled their shopping experience.  Superstar personal shopper Betty Halbreich discussed her sales techniques, though when asked what she would be doing if she didn’t work at Bergdorf’s she comically replied “drinking”.

Clips from Sex and the City, old Woody Allen movies and vintage Barbra Streisand woven into the film showed how much the luxury retailer has inspired generations of style for fashion.  With any luck, it will be a place my future generations will enjoy too.
cartoon by Victoria Roberts for the New Yorker, photos from.bergdorf-movie.com and butterflydiary.com


Karen Harvis said...

Love it and can totally relate. I grew up in New York. We live in Costa Rica now. No Bergdorf's here. I think I. Will tell my husband where to scatter my ashes if I die first. Kharvis@yahoo.com

Lending Lace said...

What is the top luxury retailer in Costa Rica?

Krystal said...

Another native New Yorker Here! It seems like, as people in the fashion in the fashion industry, Bergdorf's carries even more glamour for us than for "civilians". I still go home EVERY Christmas to get a little drool on their window! lol
I remember that Linda Fargo was on an episode of Joe Zee's On The Line, and she is very personable and down to earth. I also loved reading her story on Vogue.com.

Protonius said...

What can I say? As a native New Yorker -- currently overseas -- who, for years, has often simply taken the always-fashionable BG in-stride as a "part of my own backyard", I just now happened to catch this documentary on a TV channel here -- and I was captivated and enthralled by its revelations of the rich tapestry of elegance, acumen, creativity, and, at core, the talented people, that have made BG what it is today. Very inspiring! Almost makes me wish I had been a fashion designer! And, it also says to me, once again, that famous saying that, in my estimation, is so very true: "Only in New York!"

Adam Silber said...

unfortunately the corruption issues at this store cant be overlooked. they dont even deny them. Their continual failure to follow laws or even look out for their own customers is legendary

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