NEW YORK — Bergdorf Goodman is preparing to throw itself a big birthday bash this fall.
This story first appeared in the May 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The luxury retailer turns 111 years old this year and will celebrate with a series of special events including a documentary film, a book and an anniversary collection of more than 100 exclusive products. The theme of the event will play off the numbers of its age — 111 — and is being touted as “one store, one city, one experience.” This is the first birthday Bergdorf has marked since 1951; its centennial fell in 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks on New York City, and was not commemorated.
The celebration will kick off Sept. 6 during the fourth annual Fashion’s Night Out with designer appearances and the debut at retail of the anniversary collection.
Among the brands that are creating special merchandise are Alexander McQueen, which designed a ruched velvet dress; Christian Louboutin, which is doing pyramid-studded platforms; evening looks from Oscar de la Renta and Akris, and even an exclusive perfume called 754 from Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
In men’s, Giorgio Armani has re-created a modern version of the “American Gigolo” suit as well as a midnight blue dinner jacket. Isaia has produced an exploded plaid peacoat, Brioni offered a gray velvet dinner jacket with a lining inspired by Bergdorf’s packaging, Ermenegildo Zegna incorporated the store’s signature lavender color into the chalkstripe of a navy suit, Michael Bastian screen-printed the Sherman Monument from New York’s Grand Army Plaza onto a white oxford shirt and Ferragamo produced ties that incorporate an illustration of the store along with the Statue of Liberty and other iconic images from the city.
Other participants include Loro Piana, Kiton, Moncler, Paul Smith, Deakin and Francis, Jan Leslie, Lois Sasson, Jimmy Choo, Magnanni and Prada.
Ginny Hershey-Lambert, executive vice president of merchandising, stressed that the merchandise created for the anniversary is more than just tweaks of existing product. “When we approached our vendors, we asked them, ‘What does Bergdorf mean to you?’” she said.
As part of the celebration, the men’s and women’s stores and their windows will highlight archival images from the retailer’s history. In addition, a special documentary, titled “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” will make its debut during New York Fashion Week in September. There will be a private gala in October.
The film is being directed by Matthew Miele and takes the audience “behind the scenes into the inner sanctum” of the store, Bergdorf’s said. It will feature designers and celebrities including Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, Joan Rivers and others sharing personal stories about their experiences with Bergdorf Goodman.
A companion to the film will be a book with the same title, written by Sara James Mnookin with an introduction by Holly Brubach. It will be an anthology of personal recollections from designers, celebrities, customers and employees including Candice Bergen, Carol Burnett, Manolo Blahnik, Alber Elbaz, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Rachel Zoe and Bergdorf’s fashion director Linda Fargo. It will also feature original sketches commissioned by Bergdorf’s of the work of designers ranging from Balmain and Chanel to Lanvin, examples of the store’s advertising campaigns through the years and vintage images of the store and its window displays.
In addition to the birthday planning, Bergdorf’s is scrambling to complete a significant renovation of the third-floor contemporary designer space in its men’s store before the celebration begins. This is the first comprehensive revamp of the floor since it opened in 1990.
The first phase of the renovation included the unveiling of new Lanvin and Prada Men’s boutiques at the end of last year. Phase two will include an area for European collections including Givenchy, Rick Owens and Alexander McQueen. There will be shops for Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Etro, along with Yves Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten and Thom Browne, which will be the first men’s boutiques in the U.S. for those brands. Chrome Hearts will also have a significant presence. The restaurant has been removed and will be replaced by a Dolce & Gabbana shop and there will be distinct presentations for jewelry and leather goods. The Gucci, YSL, D&G and Chrome Hearts projects are expected to be completed by the end of June.
The final phase will center around American and international sportswear and denim and will include brands such as Paul Smith, Michael Bastian, Todd Snyder and Billy Reid.
The entire project is slated to be completed by Labor Day, as Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Thom Browne and Etro will all be finished in September.
The design of the floor was conceived by Fargo and includes weathered European oak parquet floors and cascade coil metal drapery. Ceiling tiles are also consistent throughout. Beyond that, Bergdorf’s worked with each designer to individualize their area. In addition, the windows to the street are being exposed.
“Men’s is having a massive moment,” said Hershey-Lambert.
On the main floor of the men’s store, Bergdorf’s is creating a “shoe library,” which is inspired by the Villa Necchi in Milan. “It will have a 1930s-1940s influence with a touch of Sixties ‘Mad Men,’” said Matthew Singer, men’s fashion director. “It will be the destination for shoes for men in New York City.”
The shoe department will include brands that are carried in areas throughout the store and will include designer labels. “We just want you to take your shoes off once,” Singer said. This department is also slated for a Sept. 1 completion.