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NEW YORK — In his 80 years, Marvin Traub has scaled the heights of retailing, so it was fitting that he chose the Rainbow Room, with its panoramic views of New York City, to celebrate his birthday.
Allen Questrom, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Michael Gould, Dawn Mello, Jane Elfers, Paul Charron and Ricky and Ralph Lauren were among the guests who turned out Friday night to toast the former chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s. Traub said he is proudest of three things — his wife and family, mentoring colleagues, and making some impact on the industry globally.
“The best part about Marvin is that he is always going somewhere,’’ Questrom said. “Every time I sit down with him for breakfast he says he has to catch a plane to Russia, China or some place I have never heard of.”
Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Financo Inc., recalled a 48-hour trip to Europe with Traub and a 20-year-old business associate last year. “After 24 hours, I was exhausted, the 20-year-old was beyond exhausted, and Marvin just kept on going.”
Guest after guest mentioned Traub’s enormous energy, which some attributed to early morning workouts with a personal trainer. There was some dispute about just what time these workouts start, but a bit of consensus emerged that it was before sunrise.
Traub, president of Marvin Traub Associates Inc., chalked up his good health to the luck of the genetic draw. His mother, who once ran Bonwit Teller, had the same kind of energy, and his great-great-grandfather took his fifth wife at the age of 78, he said.
Whatever the secret, Traub showed signs of excellence even as a young man, friends said.
Edward Meyer, chairman, president and ceo of the Grey Global Group, said he and Traub started working at Bloomingdale’s around the same time. But after three years, Meyer departed. “I thought, ‘What am I hanging around here for? This guy is going to be chairman,’” Meyer recalled.
Many years later, when Traub was named Bloomingdale’s chairman and ceo, Meyer said he wrote him a note that read, “Marvin, congratulations. I want you to know I knew then you would be chairman, and I left.”
Traub wrote back, “Dear Ed, Thanks for making it easy.”
Meyer said, “How’s that for gracious?”
Lauren, who went the more casual route with jeans, a tuxedo jacket and a new spring beard, said of Traub, “I have known him for 35 years and have worked with him for many years. He is one of the people I most respect in my years in fashion and business.”
Ricky Lauren added, “There is a sense of family he brings — beyond his own family — into business.”