Helen Galland, who was president and chief executive officer of Bonwit Teller from 1980 to 1983, and subsequently president of the Helen Galland Associates consulting firm, died Monday after a long illness. She was 83.
Galland was born and raised in Brooklyn and spent her entire life in New York City. She was an advocate for women in the workforce and even steered the merchandising at Bonwit Teller to cater more to career women. She was also instrumental in elevating the store’s fashion image and growing the cosmetics department.
The Bonwit Teller chain, including the New York flagship, essentially shut down in 1990, but rights to the name were attained at that time by upstate developer Pyramid Cos., which kept a few Bonwit Teller units outside New York City operating until 2000. Currently, there are no Bonwit Teller stores. The rights to the name are held by River West Brands LLC, a Chicago-based company that revitalizes moribund brands.
“Helen was there at the height of the store,” said Annette Green, president emeritus of The Fragrance Foundation. “She was a tough executive, but an incredibly wonderful woman and a mentor to women of all ages. Whenever somebody wanted advice, she found a way to help you, or to send you to the right person.”
Galland spent most of her career in merchandising. She graduated from Hunter College in 1945 with a degree in psychology. She started her business career with Lord & Taylor, when the store was run by Dorothy Shaver. In 1950, Galland joined Bonwit Teller as a millinery buyer, and rose to senior vice president and general merchandise manager. In 1975, she became president of the Wamsutta Trucraft Home Fashions division of M. Lowenstein, but returned to Bonwit Teller in 1980 as senior vice president of fashion and communications. That same year, she was promoted to president and ceo. In 1983, she started her consulting business.
Galland was active in business, fashion and academic circles. She was a member of the Women’s Forum and the Committee of 200, served on the boards of the Educational Foundation of the Fashion Institute of Technology Foundation, Woolworth’s, the Whitman Corp. and Pet Foods, and on the board of advisers of Yankelovich Clancy & Shulman.
She was also once president of the Fashion Group, a vice president and director of the City of Hope Hospital and Research Center and a supporter of City Meals-on-Wheels and Hunter College.
A funeral service will be held today at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 West 76th Street, on Amsterdam Avenue, at 11:45 a.m.
Galland is survived by three children — David Frishberg, Susan Frishberg and Judy Schoenig — four grandchildren and two stepchildren. Her husband, Frederic Loewus, died two years ago.
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