Ginny Hershey-Lambert, a longtime Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman merchant who elevated the designer businesses at the two luxury stores, died Saturday after suffering a brain aneurysm in Arc-sous-Cicon, in the Normandy region of France, where she was visiting her mother-in-law.
Hershey-Lambert was 60 and a resident of Nice, France.
“I’m really very sad this happened,” said Burt Tansky, former chief executive officer of the Neiman Marcus Group, and Hershey-Lambert’s mentor. “She was a quick study, full of spark, full of enthusiasm. She made a big contribution.”
Hershey-Lambert started her career at Saks Fifth Avenue, worked at Stanley Korshak and joined the Dallas-based Neiman Marcus luxury chain in the late 1980s, spending 17 years there and ascending to a divisional merchandise manager of couture. She was instrumental in building up Chanel, which became the luxury store’s biggest volume business, as well as Akris and Christian Louboutin, among other designers.
“Ginny was, without doubt, one of the most energetic, enthusiastic, whip-smart persons I have worked with and so passionate about her job and the fashion lines she championed, and especially passionate about the people she nurtured and supported,” said Mary-Adair Macaire, a former senior-level Chanel executive and the owner of Weatherly Design. “She would come into a Chanel appointment, and say, “What’s going to be our million-dollar jacket?’ She was so much fun to work with.”
“I’m heartbroken over the loss of Ginny,” said Jim Gold, former president and chief merchandising officer of the Neiman Marcus Group and currently interim CEO of Moda Operandi. “I had the joy and privilege of working with her for nearly two decades. Everyone loved Ginny. She was passionate about our business, fun, always positive and upbeat, even in the face of adversity, and kept a bright smile on her face. Ginny was the ultimate team player and one of the most talented merchants I have come across.”
In 2005, Hershey-Lambert joined Bergdorf’s, the sister division of Neiman Marcus, as senior vice president and general merchandise manager of apparel, eventually adding responsibilities for footwear, handbags and accessories, and rising to executive vice president of merchandising, store planning and design, and the fashion office.
After leaving Bergdorf’s in 2012, she became president of St. John Knits for a year and a half and worked as a consultant for the Yoox Group and other clients.
While at Bergdorf’s, she noticed designers beginning to create kids collections, so she elevated the kids department with new labels. “Gucci, Stella, Lanvin — everybody was starting to get into the ‘mini-me’ business,” Hershey-Lambert told WWD.
That experience led to the launch of an online marketplace for “all things kids” called MineMine Kids, which Hershey-Lambert cofounded with her longtime friend and Neiman’s colleague Carolyn McCall. The marketplace debuted with apparel, accessories, shoes, beauty, toys, home decor and furnishings for newborns up to teens. “There is such an enormous opportunity in this category, that I have moved my entire focus to the world of children’s fashion, life and style,” Hershey-Lambert said back then.
In May 2019, the partners transformed the business into an upscale apothecary for kids selling clean and organic lines such as Minois Paris skin creme, bubble bath, milk bath and lip balm; Bambini Furtuna, a premium wellness brand from Sicily offering topical products to ease discomfort such as itching and help sleep, and Spots & Stripes from the U.K. selling skin and hair care, body washes and deodorants for teen and tween girls and boys.
“We were shoe buyers together at Neiman Marcus,” McCall said. “Every time we went into a buying meeting, with every decision, it was always about the customer. It was always, ‘What do we do to make their experience penultimate and loyal to Neiman’s?’…Ginny loved mentoring young people, bringing them up through the ranks and watching their success.”
“Ginny was a very talented, creative woman and a great product person with so many interesting ideas on how to really drive the business,” said Karen Katz, who succeeded Tansky as Neiman Marcus Group’s CEO. “She inspired those who worked with her at Neiman Marcus and the designers and vendors she worked with and had a very clear point of view. She also has this very infectious laugh.
“There’s no question when she was the couture DMM, she envisioned a more modern way to operate a couture business and really move the business,” Katz added. “She made it more youthful through a combination of vendors and how we did events.” She also helped establish a “designated selling associate program” whereby sales associates became like business managers, and identified customer profiles to aid the buying and merchandising. Before Neiman’s was seriously utilizing data, “Ginny was bringing more of a scientific approach to how we worked with new designers.”
Hershey-Lambert is survived by her husband, Patrice Lambert; stepdaughter, Anoushka Lambert; her father, Bob Hershey; brother, Bruce Hershey; sister-in-law, Connie Hershey; stepfather, Johnny LaRoe, and her mother-in-law. Donations in memory of Ginny Hershey-Lambert can be made to the FIT NYC Educational Fund.