Neiman’s Book of Christmas Dreams

Fantasy lives at Neiman Marcus - especially for holiday.

DALLAS — Fantasy lives at Neiman Marcus — especially for holiday.

The Dallas-based luxury retailer on Tuesday released the 81st edition of its Christmas Book, featuring gifts that most consumers can only, well, fantasize about.

This year’s most extravagant offerings include a pristine 10-acre home site in a Montana preserve for $2.3 million, a mini yellow submarine for $1.44 million, and the orange-and-black ultralight aircraft flown from Canada to Mexico to draw attention to the migratory path and plight of the monarch butterfly for $80,000.

Then there’s the $100,000 interactive media contraption that’s like something out of a sci-fi movie and, of course, bling is always a player.

For the woman who has everything, and then some, Neiman’s is offering a 305-carat uncut diamond ready to mount in a custom necklace. The price tag is $1 million. In addition, there’s a pink-and-white diamond-encrusted rose gold cell phone at $73,000.

For sheer oddity, the retailer is selling a $75,000 Swami conversational robot, a talking head in a glass box that resembles an arcade attraction but can converse surprisingly well and develop “relationships” through artificial intelligence.

The “His and Hers” tradition is represented by portraits in Bosco chocolate for $110,000 by Vik Muniz, who is donating his proceeds to a Brazilian charity that helps underprivileged youth.

The gifts that get media attention will help promote the more accessible jewelry, clothing, shoes, handbags and other items in the 160-page catalogue that will be sent to 1.8 million customers — about the same as last year.

“I’m very pleased with the way business has been this year and with the Web, which just continues to grow,” said Brendan Hoffman, chief executive officer of NM Direct, Neiman’s catalogue and Web division. “The technology is making it quicker and easier for us to offer richer content, like videos and zoom images, and to bring the customer to the fashion shows with us.”

Hoffman spoke to reporters after piano virtuoso Lola Astanova gave a preview of the private Tchaikovsky concert she would perform with the Kirov Orchestra, an experience that can be purchased for $1.59 million. He declined to forecast holiday business, but said the retailer is giving more space to fashion and accessories from status brands such as Prada, Gucci and Marc Jacobs. There are also exclusive items created for Neiman’s 100th anniversary, including a $1,695 Gucci gold leather tote bag.

This story first appeared in the October 3, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As for those dream gifts, there’s a $2 million team franchise in a nascent league of rocket-powered racing aircraft, complete with plane. And the kids might enjoy a 100-foot-long backyard dragon topiary for $30,000, or a tree-tent pod with a hardwood floor that sleeps two for $50,000.

Hoffman’s favorite is the 8-foot-wide interactive media wall of video, photos, TV and Internet, all manipulated easily by touch.

The auto exclusive is a Lexus IS F special-build sedan for $68,000. A total of 50 go on the market at noon on Oct. 18, and buyers had better be quick. Last year, 50 BMW convertibles were dispatched in 93 seconds, as fast as operators could take orders.

Customers will have the option of donating $1 to Room to Read, which builds schools and libraries in developing nations. Neiman’s will match each donation.