Designers’ Memories of Bergdorf Goodman

Donna Karan, Vera Wang, Stella McCartney and more speak of the retailer with reverence and gratitude.

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Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-Seventies was in the process of reinventing itself as a designer destination. Problem was, other retailers in Manhattan were more developed in the designer arena and had a stranglehold on the top names. Out of necessity, Bergdorf’s buyers had to be on the lookout for new talent. Dawn Mello, vice president of fashion, and her team traveled to Italy when most stores were going to Paris and found “unknowns” such as Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré and Fendi. Designers who are well-established today speak of Bergdorf’s with reverence and gratitude. Some said that having their collections sold at the retailer was a seminal moment in their careers. Younger talents are enthralled with the store’s luxurious interiors, fantastically creative windows and refined staff.

Here, some designer memories:

Donna Karan:

“I would not be who I am today if not for Bergdorf Goodman. They launched me as a designer. They gave me my first shop. Dawn Mello encouraged and supported me every step of the way, from Anne Klein to starting Donna Karan. Bergdorf Goodman has always been ahead of the curve and has always looked to take that next step forward.” 

Vera Wang:
“Bergdorf Goodman is not just a fashion institution, it’s a New York institution. Since I’m a native New Yorker, I grew up at Bergdorf’s. I had a unique experience — I got to meet Mr. Goodman in the children’s department on the top floor. My mother got me a little bunny rabbit coat. Being the great merchant he was, Mr. Goodman came down and introduced himself. That may have been an impetus for me to go into fashion, meeting somebody who was larger than life. Bergdorf’s, like many stores at the time, was run by a family. They lived above the store and watched over it. I remember when the men’s store was built. Bergdorf’s was constantly readdressing the needs of its clients — their fashion needs, glamour needs and social needs. It’s all about embracing a luxury lifestyle.”

Stella McCartney:
“Bergdorf Goodman was the first store in America, and one of the first to take Stella McCartney, even before I went to Chloé. I remember getting a lady in Rye, East Sussex, near where I grew up, to knit all the cardigans, and I found little glass buttons in a tiny store for them. [Bergdorf Goodman] believed in me, and understood the brand very early on in its life. I was so proud, because being half-American, I knew what Bergdorf Goodman was, and how impressive it was to be chosen to be sold there. It still is a great honor to be there, and now I have the pleasure of an amazing space that is far from the early days when all I had was a tiny rail.…Love the way our journey has grown together!”

Alberta Ferretti:
“Bergdorf Goodman represents the best of everything to me — the best location in the U.S. on the iconic corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, and, most importantly, the best of the best in fashion, accessories, shoes, beauty and home furnishings. It’s a quintessential New York landmark dedicated to quality and service and I am honored that both my signature Alberta Ferretti collection and Philosophy have a place in this legendary store.”

Catherine Malandrino:
“Bergdorf Goodman is fashion royalty, a reflection of exclusivity, strength and grace while presenting the best of American and European fashion. Bergdorf Goodman embodies the ultimate fashion fantasy, transporting you to another world and the ultimate state of elegance. From the beginning of my career and for more than 10 years, Bergdorf Goodman has believed in my designs. I could not have wished a better window in which to present my collection. Bergdorf’s has the most discerning clientele. As fashion has become more global, Bergdorf Goodman continues to be at the forefront of international style with the most refined selection of what the fashion world has to offer. Bergdorf’s continues to reveal talents and educate customers about what today’s fashion is, and what tomorrow’s fashion will be. Over the past few years, Bergdorf’s windows have been an annual topic of study at my son Oscar’s school, the Lycée Français of New York. Once a year the students visit the store and study the iconic windows, a reflection of the creative talent that is Linda Fargo [senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation] and David Hoey [senior director of visual presentation], so that they can write an essay on the breathtaking windows. Religiously, I have accompanied Oscar to study the windows, opening his mind to art, fashion and style at Bergdorf Goodman.”

Rebecca Taylor:
“I used to work as a hostess at the SoHo Kitchen and Bar. The couple who owned it were very wealthy and lived in an apartment above the restaurant. The woman would pull up in a black car holding bunches of Bergdorf Goodman bags. It was a real aspirational store. When we got in there, we felt like we’d made it. It’s always been a really good partnership. Bergdorf Goodman has a girl that doesn’t shop everywhere. It’s a very loyal customer.”

Erdem Moralioglu:
“Bergdorf Goodman is such an iconic landmark in New York. It’s thrilling to have them as a stockist. I think Bergdorf’s knows their customer so well. I was just amazed with how well [I] did in the store as soon as [the collection] arrived. It’s a beautiful store with amazing personal shoppers. The experience of shopping at Bergdorf’s is just special, on any floor.”

Christopher Bailey:
“From its historic moments in film to its extraordinary windows to its magnificent interiors and their ability to always be current, Bergdorf Goodman is a New York store of iconic status. We take great pride in our partnership with this formidable, much loved institution”

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