There a few iconic department stores throughout the world that are destination places in, and of themselves: Harrods’s and Harvey Nichols, London; Galleries Lafayette, Paris; David Jones, Sydney; KaDeWe, Berlin; (and once magnificent, now defunct, Marshall Field’s, Chicago); none can touch the mythical, legendary reputation cemented by Bergdorf Goodman in New York City; it is the crystallization of glamour, epitome of possession; a monument to unimaginable success in design and the lionization of the “purchasing power” of the consumer.
This colossal enterprise germinated from two ambitious tailors: Herman Bergdorf and Edwin Goodman, never envisioning the magnitude of their success when their store opened in 1899 . In 1914 they were the first to initiate Ready-to Wear; fortune “reigns” on every designer blessed with the “gilt” of approval from Bergdorf Goodman: Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Georgio Armani, Olsen Twins, Jason Wu, Vera Wang a few among the many. The rich and the famous are key sources of public relations: Susan Lucci, Candace Bergen, Joan Rivers and those whose lights have dimmed: Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon.
“Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s” ( Victoria Roberts, New Yorker cartoon) is delightfully flawed fluff, but compensated by the Merlin of 57th Street, David Hoey, a visionary who creates the windows that mesmerize multitudes at the holiday season; super -saleswoman Betty Halbreich, whose blatant honesty and chutzpah garnish a six -figure yearly income; Linda Fargo, spectacular, stylish, 75-watt smile, vice president, king- and –queen- maker at Bergdorf’s; her flair and prescient insights inform the world of “what-to-wear”, her power resonates universally.
A major irritant was the ubiquitous bastardization of the word “like”; a colloquialism that is destroying proper grammar; Ms. Fargo with her wit and intelligence should eliminate this affliction, affecting the masses. Longed for more depth, history on the founders and their families; there was enough to water the fashion buds, but rootless, historically.
The film is stunning in depicting the transformative, electric force emanating from Bergdorf’s formidable aisles; without spending a cent, just wandering through the wonderland of extravagantly displayed merchandise: shoes, gowns, jewelry beyond beauty, beyond owning but amazingly Bergdorf Goodman’s doors are open, embracing everyone, regardless of demographics, monetary girth; for a fleeting moment, miraculously, a store eases the tribulations of the day; lightens one’s step; euphorically, jubilantly, wallowing in the “glory of it all”.