DALLAS — Leave it to Neiman Marcus to upholster a London taxi in camel leather, accented by Burberry’s famous plaid, and offer it for sale for $58,900.
This story first appeared in the October 1, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The shiny black car was one of a dozen exclusive gifts unveiled here Monday at the launch of the annual Christmas Book.
“We’re celebrating our 95th anniversary, and one of the things Neiman’s has been famous for is its tradition of offering imaginative gifts,’’ said Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer of NM Direct, the catalog and e-commerce division of Neiman Marcus Group.
Perhaps the book’s most intriguing offering is a $3 million set of 10 portraits of famous Seventies-era athletes by Andy Warhol. One of eight in existence, the series features Muhammed Ali, Chris Evert, Willie Shoemaker and O.J. Simpson, among others. It’s proffered by Richard Weisman, a Seattle investment banker who helped produce the series by pitching the idea to Warhol and lining up the athletes.
“I don’t know if it will sell — and I hope it doesn’t,’’ said Weisman, who owns three more of the sets that he’s earmarked for each of his children. “I put a hefty price on it, but Warhol is so hot right now.’’
This year’s His & Her gimmick is the opportunity to have a 6-inch action figure made in your likeness for $7,500. Katz enlisted her good-natured son, 13-year-old Alex, to introduce the figure by posing him onstage in a Lucite box with his action figure.
Neiman’s paid homage to Stanley Marcus, chairman emeritus of Neiman’s who died in January, by recreating a gift he once concocted for a customer. It’s a replica of a pousse café drink made with pastel cashmere sweaters layered in a giant brandy snifter and topped by a ruby and diamond ring for $11,050 — or $1,000 without the ring.
Also on the fashion side, Neiman’s offers a $5,000 custom cameo portrait made by M+M Scognamiglio Cameos, a 200-year-old family enterprise in Naples that carves cameos from conch shells.
“Cameos were worn by Napoleon and Queen Victoria,’’ explained Amedeo Scognamiglio, a sixth-generation cameo carver, as he showed his wares. “It’s an extremely personalized piece of jewelry. They’re usually worn by a woman who is very feminine and romantic with a taste for art and artisanal accessories, because what you are buying here is the skill.’’
Naturally, there are such baubles as a lavish diamond necklace — 60-carats sculpted into a white-gold collar for $300,000 — or $550,000 with a 7-carat pear-shaped diamond drop.
Other notables are a $15,000 Balinese bamboo and grass lounge-hut designed by jeweler John Hardy; a Hinkley yacht for $285,500; 25 flight hours on a private jet for $109,000 to $299,000, and a tasting tour of Scottish distilleries and castles hosted by Johnny Walker Blue Label.
Evan Cattanach, director of Scotch knowledge for Johnnie Walker, said, “They’ll come back extremely knowledgeable — if they can remember it.’’