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Ruth Staiman, The Fashion Office Cofounder, Dies at 51

Staiman started her career at Bloomingdale’s as an assistant fashion coordinator under the late Kalman Ruttenstein, and also worked at Esquire.

Ruth W. Staiman, a former senior fashion coordinator of men’s and children’s at Bloomingdale’s, and the cofounder of The Fashion Office, died Monday in West Palm Beach, Fla. She was 51.

The cause of death was breast cancer.

“Bloomingdale’s was very fortunate to have Ruth as part of our family during one of the stages in her career,” said Kevin Harter, vice president of men’s fashion direction at the retailer. “I will always remember Ruth for her passion for the industry, her amazing humor and, most of all, her kindness.”

Staiman, a graduate of New York University, started her career at Bloomingdale’s as an assistant fashion coordinator under the late Kalman Ruttenstein, the former fashion director of the retailer. There, she was eventually promoted to senior fashion coordinator where she guided buyers, ensuring they remained fashion-forward but on-brand with the business.

“She really loved her job and she was a very hard worker,” said Sibyl Piccone, Staiman’s former coworker and current assistant to both Harter and Brooke Jaffe, vice president of fashion direction for women’s ready-to-wear for Bloomingdale’s. “She was a devoted woman, a very kind woman, but someone who held her ground when it came to fashion — something she truly loved.”

Stuart Goldblatt, executive vice president of private brands for Macy’s Merchandising Group, who worked with Staiman at Bloomingdale’s, said, “Ruth was always so full of life, vim, vigor and vitality. It is hard to believe she is gone. She was one always with a smile on her face and was part of the crew that was trained by Kal Ruttenstein. In the early Nineties, the fashion office was headed by Kal and run by Holly Adam with Ruth at her side running the men’s fashion office. We were all charged to procure product that our customers could not find anywhere else. Her smiling face and upbeat persona will be missed greatly by many.”

After more than 13 years with the retailer, Staiman joined Hearst Corp., where she became Esquire magazine’s director before being promoted to executive director, overseeing retail and fashion advertisers and marketing.

“I felt like I got a big prize when I got her to leave Bloomingdale’s and come to Esquire,” said Valerie Salembier, president of the Salembier Group and former senior vice president and chief revenue officer at Hearst. “She was the head of fashion marketing but knew so much and taught us all about men’s fashion. She was really a men’s expert and really taught us about men’s retail and what men are looking for when they get into a store. She was an expert strategist.”

After five years at Esquire, she relocated to West Palm Beach, where she launched her own consulting business, The Fashion Office, with cofounder Michael Kucmeroski, a former senior fashion editor at Esquire.

Adam, the former men’s and children’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s, said that the logo for The Fashion Office was “two glorious white chairs upholstered in lime green velvet that sat on the opposite side of Kal Ruttenstein’s desk. Ruth was very proud to have ‘graduated’ from Kal U.

“She was a force of nature, the gorgeous blonde ponytail swinging, arms akimbo, handbag contents spilling out, all the while shining,” Adam said. “It was a heel every day, despite the weather. Hermès was the only appropriate bag to contain the myriad contents. Chanel? The ensemble of choice. Where might she be on any given day? Hard to say, but suffice it to say that Ruth had the international travel bug and soaked it all up. Whether for business or pleasure, this girl…hit the ground running. She loved nothing more. Especially if her family was in tow.”

Staiman is survived by her husband, William Bymel, sons, Phillip and William Staiman, and daughter, Elizabeth Bymel, 8.

Services will be held Wednesday at noon at the Star of David Funeral Home at 9321 Memorial Park Road in West Palm Beach, Fla.