Monday, September 12, 2016

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

The ‘Main’ Event

Saint Laurent heart shaped mink coat on display
All photos: Marilyn Kirschner

After a very lengthy, extensive and no doubt costly facelift courtesy Michael Neumann Architecture LLC, Bergdorf Goodman’s new main floor is finally ready for its close up. And what better time than September; with New York Fashion Week going on, and customers from all over the world chomping at the bit to get shopping for fall?

Joshua Schulman 

While there was a ‘soft’ opening last week, the formal unveiling was from noon to 3pm yesterday afternoon, lorded over by Joshua Schulman, President of Bergdorf Goodman, and Linda Fargo, the store’s Senior Vice President and Women’s Fashion Director. And boy, does she ever look beautiful! And I’m not just talking about Linda, who was wearing a strikingly colorful nature inspired dress by Adam Lippes. Everywhere you look is a visual delight.

Among the notable cosmetic changes: the floors have been changed from wood panels to stone; new light fixtures have been added (there is a Louis XV style chandelier at the 5th Avenue Grand Hall and a Lobmyer inspired chandelier at the Jewelry Salon); the walls have been painted matte pearl gray with a base of Blue de Savoie dark marble. While not unrecognizable from before (isn’t that the goal of a good plastic surgeon?), the space is refreshed; it just flows better, seems bigger and brighter, and is more enchantingly luxurious: all the better to show off the treasure trove of fabulous accessories by Alaia, McQueen, Anya Hindmarch, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Lanvin, Tom Ford, Saint Laurent, The Row, Valentino Garavani, Balenciaga, and more. And let’s face it; it's all about accessories these days. They can easily make or break an outfit.

Balenciaga leather shopping bags

In some instances, these aforementioned designers were asked to create exclusives for the store. Such was the case with the graphically striped oversized leather Balenciaga 'Bazaar' shopper, $1645, that has become THE IT bag this season, and is apparently on every fashion editor’s wish list (the BG exclusive is in green, white, and black stripes). I couldn’t resist asking Linda how she keeps from going bankrupt working at this store, because quite frankly, I sort of wanted everything I touched.

Anne Christensen and Linda Fargo

Of course, one of the things that makes Bergdorf so iconic, so unique, and so special that it stands out among the rest is that the 111 year old store it is truly one of a kind; a singular sensation. When I asked Mr. Schulman if there might ever be another at some point in the future, he smiled and said, “Never say never” but right now, he is clearly focusing on the one and only. FYI, Mr. Schulman has been President since May 2012 (he had been Chief Executive of Jimmy Choo), and upon his appointment, he immediately began major renovations of both the men’s and women’s stores.

Freddie Leiba 

Unsurprisingly, it was fashion gridlock this sunny and very warm Sunday afternoon, and fortunately, shoppers were able to cool down with refreshing mineral water and champagne served by attentive waiters who milled around. Among the throng were Dennis Basso, super stylists Freddie Leiba and Anne Christensen.

Elyse Nemerever and Ana Maria Pimentel

Also Ana Maria Pimental, Fashion Director Women’s Accessories, Neiman Marcus; Elyse Nemerever, Executive Vice President Lanvin USA (who admitted that one reason she wanted to go there was because of Alber, and while he quickly departed one month later, she’s still glad she made the move!); Lyn Slater, blogger, stylist and content creator,; and Cindy Weber-Cleary, Founder & Creative Director, a digital shopping destination geared towards women over 45.

Cindy has enjoyed a long and celebrated career at magazines like Glamour, Vogue, and most recently In Style where she was Fashion Director. She was 58 when she started her new venture, along with Stephanie Stahl. Apprecier is a French verb which means “to appreciate, to enjoy, and grow in value over time.” As she put it, “In recent years, we began to feel that shopping for clothes had gone from being a pleasurable pastime to an overwhelming and exhausting chore. We were spending way too much of our precious time searching for clothes that flatter and truly tempt us.”

Cindy Weber Cleary and Lyn Slater
I must admit that when I first walked into Bergdorf Goodman, other than the mannequin wearing that fabulous heart shaped Saint Laurent coat in the 5th Avenue entrance, the two women who immediately caught my eye were Cindy and Lyn. I have known Cindy for years, but just met Lyn last week (she was my table mate at the FIT Couture Council Luncheon honoring Albert Kriemler with their Artistry in Fashion Award). She caught my eye at both events, and while I don’t know her exact age, let’s just say she is over 45.

When I asked Cindy about her new venture, she instantly described it as a far cry from Seth Cohen’s blog, Advanced Style, I admire Seth’s ambitious vision, and his desire to put a spotlight on and feature women over “a certain age” (I hate that term lol). But with all due respect, I have long thought that many if not most of his subjects are far too costumey with their silly hats and over the top ensembles, and he’s sending the wrong signals. Like Bergdorf Goodman, there is only one Iris Apfel and women shouldn’t necessarily try to emulate her unless that is truly who they are. It’s as if he’s saying that when you get old, you can either fade into oblivion, or you can look downright silly, far too over the top, unnatural, and dress as though you’re going to a perennial costume party.

To my way of thinking, there IS a happy middle ground. There are women like Lyn Slater, who was the best dressed person I saw yesterday. She looked utterly chic in a beautiful white shirt, perfectly cut full cut black trousers, and simple yet statement making accessories. They suited and enhanced her. And best of all, she looked supremely comfortable, both literally and figuratively (in her own skin).

-  Marilyn Kirschner

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