DALLAS — "Wait ’til you see upstairs," said Burt Tansky as he welcomed a guest to Neiman Marcus’ 95th anniversary gala. "It’s the greatest store in America."
A bit biased, perhaps, but Neiman’s chairman and chief executive had reason to brag on this night. All six floors of the flagship were decked out for the retailer’s birthday party, with lavish holiday decor, whimsical displays and an abundance of food, models and musicians. Even the PETA protesters walking the streets outside, griping about a Santa Claus dressed in red mink and white ermine, didn’t dampen the mood. Are there any other stores with a Christmas tree festooned with Manolo Blahnik shoes?
Ken Downing, Neiman’s vice president and chief party impresario, ducked under a rolled paper lampshade as he escorted C.Z. Guest and Harry Slatkin into an elevator colorfully wallpapered with the number 95.
"This is 95 degrees in the shade, in case you were wondering," Downing said.
He led the candle purveyors to see the sixth-floor women’s restroom decorated with dried roses, floral-framed mirrors, a leopard-print rug and plenty of Guest’s powerfully fragrant"Garden Roses" candles.
"This is fantastic — have you ever in your life?" gasped Guest, who was nonplussed when Downing shepherded Slatkin and a male photographer into the powder room along with her.
"He is so naughty. There were two women in there, and they were horrified," Guest said.
Downstairs on the main floor, about 50 people lined up for a photo with the fur-clad Santa, who told many to "feel my suit." What he didn’t mention was that his wife had sewn him a special cold suit to wear underneath so he didn’t overheat.
The milling crowd gazed upward, taking in the ornate silver and white chandeliers, oversized clear crystals dangling from silver organza ribbons and mannequin-like models in furs and Roberto Cavalli dresses standing frozen atop display fixtures. Over in fine jewelry, big black-and-white photos of jewel-laden local pooches blanketed the walls.
"There’s my dog, Cruiser, in a $185,000 Frank Mueller watch that got damaged every time he hit the floor," chirped Angie Barrett, a local socialite.Pamela Dennis admired the photos and said she had been scouting SoHo to open a combination photography gallery- clothing shop for the eveningwear line she expects to launch in February.
"I plan to start small, with 25 pieces," she said. "I’ve had two years of being out [of the business] because I had a non-compete clause."
Musicians and exhibitions reflecting the gala’s "comfort & joy" theme as well as the retailer’s history was arrayed on each floor. On two, which has long housed Neiman’s prestige women’s collections and furs, was a 70-year retrospective of the little black dress, featuring styles by Chanel, Norman Norell, Pauline Trigere, Hanae Mori and Calvin Klein.
On the men’s floor, a frightfully lifelike animatronic depiction of Derrill Osborn, the flamboyant former Neiman’s men’s executive, narrated a witty show of"arboraceous curiosities." For example, the grove of pun trees featured the Manolo Blahnik "shoe tree," a "paste tree" of fake jewels, a "lemon tree" hung with photos of such automotive disasters as the Chevy Vega, and the "palm tree" of gloves.
A display of clear plastic clocks on the sixth floor humorously chartered a historical event for each of the past 95 years. The rim of the 1943 clock marking the completion of the Pentagon was filled with red tape, while the 1961 clock celebrating the first American manned space flight was ringed with powdered Tang.
Last month’s gala drew about 1,000 people who bought tickets to support the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Dallas chapter. The following Monday, Patti Crews was back in the store to gaze at the tiaras on the paste tree after seeing them at the black-tie benefit.
"It was so overwhelming, you couldn’t take it all in, so we came back down," she said.
That sort of attitude, with some shopping thrown in, is exactly what Neiman’s is hoping for.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)