NEW YORK — As if there isn’t always enough activity, add an army of hard hats and the smell of fresh paint to the scene at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street.
The 520,000-square-foot flagship is in the final throes of renovation once again, this time touching more than 100,000 square feet of selling space, roughly a fifth of the site, and recasting bridge, contemporary, home, shoes, fine jewelry and parts of the designer floor.
Through October and November, Bloomingdale’s is running ads and staging designer appearances to spotlight new and rebuilt shops and overhauled departments, a huge project estimated to cost $400 to $500 a square foot, or in the vicinity of $50 million, paid for by Bloomingdale’s and its vendors.
“In our 20 years at the store, we have never had this much square footage under construction at one time,” Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer since 1991, said in an interview with two of his top lieutenants: Frank Doroff, vice chairman, and Jack Hruska, executive vice president of creative services, who have also spent two decades at the store.
“What’s so exciting is the business here has been terrific in 2011,” despite the makeover, Gould added. “There’s strong tourist traffic and a resurgence in luxury.” Gould declined to say just how good business is, but sources said the flagship generated more than $600 million in annual sales last year, or about $1,200 a square foot.
While things are good overall, there are some less robust pockets of business, such as bridge sportswear on three, called New View, where there’s been radical surgery. The assortment has been modernized, feminized and less weighted to wear-to-work, Bloomingdale’s says. Such labels as Cynthia Steffe, Milly, Nanette Lepore, Rebecca Taylor, Tibi and Trina Turk, previously found on the second floor for contemporary sportswear, have moved up a flight to generate greater cross-shopping floor to floor. Newcomers to three include Coast, Weekend Max Mara, Robert Rodriguez and Vince Camuto. Level three also houses a contemporary dress department, relocated from five, with several labels new to Bloomingdale’s, such as Black Halo, Halston Heritage, Issa and Susana Monaco.
“We felt the ready-to-wear business has been somewhat challenging since 2008 and that we needed to reinvigorate,” said Doroff.
The goal on three, said Gould, is to “generate more energy and create a different lifestyle. The energy was all on two.”
Contemporary sportswear on two, called YES, or Young East Sider, is a different story. It’s the fastest-growing and biggest-volume piece of rtw and where Bloomingdale’s has a strong reputation. YES is distinguished by its “breadth of assortment, the depth of the buy and the importance we give to the brands,” Doroff said. There’s a wide price range, too, from a private label Aqua cardigan for $58, to Helmut Lang leather pants priced at $920.
To sustain momentum, YES has been recast from an open jumble to an elevated presentation of designer shops, with a stronger European contingent, including newcomers to the floor Zadig & Voltaire, Maje, Sandro, Reiss, and soon to open Ted Baker. Also new is the first collection from Rachel Zoe and 10 Crosby Street by Derek Lam. Pre-renovation, there were just three shops on the floor; now there are 20. There are also pumped-up presentations for three “backbone” businesses: T-shirts, denim and Aqua. “There was minimal vendor identity before,” Hruska said. “Now it’s a floor where every resource has its own shop.”
Among other key elements of the renovation:
• A bigger shoe department on two, enlarged by 5,000 square feet, with vendors Aqua, B Brian Atwood, Eileen Fisher, Rachel Zoe, Sorel, Taryn Rose and a make-your-own flip-flop Havaianas shop. “I don’t think we underplayed shoes before,” Gould said. “We just really didn’t have enough room before. There’s a lot of growth to be had.”
• The re-created Lexington Avenue balcony housing fine jewelry, with Ippolita and John Hardy and additions including 5th Season by Roberto Coin, Brumani, Buccellati, Bulgari, Damiani, Di Massima, Di Modolo, Georg Jensen, India Hicks and Paul Morelli, among others. Fine jewelry will be flanked by a visitor center where consultants use iPads programmed to give store directions in nine languages, and a contemporary handbag area with Cornelia Guest, Glamourpuss NYC, Love Moschino, M Z Wallace and Rachel Zoe.
• Walls have been taken down, ceilings heightened, windows uncovered and certain storage space has been converted to selling space, for better visibility off escalators and across the floors.
• Accessories integrated into rtw and shoe shops to provide “full shopping experiences and different ways to merchandise,” Hruska said. “This makes the shops more interesting so customers will spend more time in individual areas.”
• Four new designer shops on four — Burberry London, Burberry Prorsum, Akris Punto and St. John — plus a renovated Maximilian fur department.
• A revamped home floor on seven with an airier feel, including a large Lauren for Ralph Lauren Home shop and new bedding areas from top labels such as Diane von Furstenberg, Frette, Pratesi Sky and Vera Wang.
Also, Bloomingdale’s eased up on its signature black trim, which has served to tie floors together and cast a Bloomingdale’s aura. It remains most apparent on main floor cosmetics, redone two years ago, while the contemporary floor has toned down to a gray finish with cement floors and refined black lines. “It felt too serious before,” Hruska said.
Among the largest shops on three is Burberry Brit, which wraps around the escalator in a 2,000-square-foot setting with digital technology, and Elie Tahari, with just over 2,000 square feet, Venetian plaster, blackened steel walls, a signature glass shelving system and custom-designed light walls with a midcentury grid lighting fixture.
DKNY features floor-to-ceiling video footage of runway shows and photo shoots, and an interactive touch screen that allows shoppers to select videos and read DKNY PR Girl’s blog. And Kate Spade is relatively small, with 500 square feet, yet stands out because of a unique glass enclosure.
Bloomingdale’s 59th Street has seen a spate of renovations since 2004, the last time contemporary sportswear was redone. In subsequent years, bridge, intimate apparel, dresses, coats, men’s contemporary, furniture, rugs, mattresses and designer handbags were all renovated, and the previous largest single renovation was in 2009 when the beauty floor was reinvented.
“We believe we can in many areas of the store give the brand their look within the look of Bloomingdale’s, so it’s not just like it’s a hodgepodge,” Gould said. “In cosmetics, MAC has its look. Chanel has their look, but they’re within the framework of Bloomingdale’s. The second and third floors have a lot of shops but it reads Bloomingdale’s. That’s the key.
“We’re not aspiring to be that designer store,” Gould said, referring to a luxe range seen on Madison Avenue. “I want a store where there is action, energy, a pulse going all the time. That’s good for some, and some people say that’s too much. We think that’s who we are.”
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)