DALLAS — Every year the mission gets a little trickier: How can Neiman Marcus raise the bar on flamboyant gifts in its Christmas Book?
This time around, Neiman’s went for art and technology, with a little Hollywood thrown in, too.
“We think luxury can be found at all price points,” asserted Brendan Hoffman, president and chief executive of NM Direct.
Introducing a $400,000 pair of His and Hers life-size remote-control robots, Hoffman said, “They meet Stanley Marcus’ criteria in that they prompt the question, ‘I wonder who would buy something like that?’”
The unveiling of the catalog’s quirky marquee gifts is intended purely as a publicity vehicle for the book, which is mailed to 1.8 million homes and shown online at Neiman’s Web site. Its 148 pages offer plenty of conventional gifts like designer handbags, crystal glasses and leather jackets. Last year, designer handbags and shoes were “incredibly strong” in the Christmas Book and continued to excel all year, he noted, but declined to reveal sales for the issue.
Although the fantasy gifts are just that, Neiman’s executives know some will sell. For instance, they expect to move all 50 of the catalog’s exclusive $75,170 BMW 645 Coupes, as they have sold out limited-edition automobiles every year since they first experimented with a BMW Roadster in 1994. Last year, the book’s 99 Neiman Marcus-edition Cadillacs sold out in a record 14 minutes.
Neiman’s is also confident that someone will buy the 44-carat, fancy yellow diamond ring for $800,000.
“That’s an easy sale,” said Steve Magner, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of precious jewelry for the retailer. “We had a hard time not showing it before today. How many beautiful 44-carat stones do you see?”
They have similar expectations for four sets of exclusive colorful monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage, which have had several inquiries so far. The $50,000 set of five canvas and leather-trimmed pieces feature Vuitton’s monogram in various colors on a black background.
The book moves into more experimental territory with two unusual art forms: A $50,000 “shadow garden” interactive video projection, in which colorful butterflies land on the participant’s shadow and flutter their wings, and a custom-designed work of environmental art that uses flowers, plants, rocks and trees to build an image on land that’s discernible from a bird’s-eye view. A half-acre installation by artist Stan Herd starts at $160,000.Neiman’s first dabbled with art last year when it offered a series of Andy Warhol paintings of sports figures for $3 million, but the paintings did not sell.
Renowned for unusual fare, this year’s catalog proffers a $10,000 custom-made gold polyurethane mermaid tail and shell top made by the designer who styled the costumes for “Splash.” Also on its pages are a $12.7 million Bombardier Learjet, a $550,000 DaimlerChrysler motorcycle-like concept vehicle with a V-10 Dodge Viper engine, a $27,000 luxury ice-fishing house and a $24,855 Swarovski crystal chandelier in the shape of a branch of cherry blossoms.