NEW YORK -- Bergdorf Goodman has eliminated the position of fashion director, leaving its senior vice president Ellin Saltzman without a job.
"This is a total surprise," Saltzman told WWD on Monday, shortly after she was notified of her dismissal.
"I was told the position was eliminated and there will not be a fashion director," Saltzman said.
Saltzman said she believed the decision to let her go was made by Dawn Mello, Bergdorf's recently appointed president.
However, she said Stephen C. Elkin, Bergdorf's chairman and chief executive, delivered the bad news.
Neither Mello, who is in Milan attending the men's wear shows, nor Elkin could be reached for comment late Monday.
When Mello was hired as president of the store last April, after serving as creative director of Gucci, there was widespread speculation that her style would clash with Saltzman's.
The two women have strong personalities and are considered top fashion executives. However, when Mello joined Bergdorf's, she hinted that there would not necessarily be a conflict.
"Ellin is fashion director," Mello said. "She's very able and my job is not the fashion director."
"I was hoping we could work it out," Saltzman said.
"We're both very good at what we do. We're both very strong," she added.
This store is hot at the moment. I was hoping to add fuel to her fire, and the store's fire."
Saltzman said she will probably remain at Bergdorf's through Thursday.
"I still plan to go to the couture shows -- solo." She said she plans to seek an editorial or merchandising job.
Asked about her accomplishments at Bergdorf's, she cited her role in bringing John Galliano to the store, among some other lines. She also said she made some inroads with the catalog business, and "helped the staff keep on top of the trends." Saltzman started her retail career at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1975 as acting fashion director, a post later made permanent. In 1984, Saltzman accepted an offer to join Macy's as a fashion director, but rejected it the following day after Saks elevated her to senior vice president and director of fashion and product development.In August 1989, however, she did join Macy's, as senior vice president and corporate fashion director. She stayed until April 1992, when she joined Bergdorf's.