In 1938, there was no internet, designers hadn’t begun opening their own stores, and there was far less competition for Neiman Marcus.
That’s when Stanley Marcus, Neiman’s legendary longtime president, and Carrie Marcus Neiman, cofounder of Neiman Marcus, launched the Neiman Marcus Distinguished Service Award for Contributions in the Field of Fashion to spotlight talent and innovators and further the luxury retailer’s image and bonds with important designers in the U.S. and abroad.
Marcus was a master at retail innovation and in advocating customer service. He organized art exhibitions in the store, created “Fortnights” for import promotions from countries around the world and launched the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalogue with its lineup of fantasy, uber-expensive gifts like camels and airplanes, and exotic experiences, like a custom motorcycle and a two-day motorcycle trip with Keanu Reeves, or a walk-on role in “Annie” as well as designer fashions and affordable items like stocking stuffers and candles.
Carrie Marcus Neiman was a successful businesswoman who started Neiman’s along with her brother Herbert Marcus (Stanley’s father) and her husband A.L. Neiman, because they wanted Texans to wear the finest clothing.
In some years they gave the Neiman Marcus Distinguished Service Award for Contributions in the Field of Fashion to several individuals, typically fashion luminaries though not always. Other years there was a single recipient. It was an annual event through the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s until the ’70s when for one reason or another, certain years passed without seeing anyone honored with the award.
Here, a partial list of about half of the recipients of Neiman’s coveted award.
1938: Louise B. Gallagher, John-Frederics, Richard Koret, Dorothy Liebes, George Miller, Dan Palter, Nettie Rosenstein.
1939: Elizabeth Arden, Hattie Carnegie
1940: Lilly Dache, Elsa Schiaparelli
1942: Betsey Blackwell, Norman Norell
1946: Slim Keith, Adele Simpson
1947: Christian Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo
1948: Claire McCardell
1950: Bonnie Cashin, Gloria Swanson, Pauline Trigère
1952: Dolores del Rio
1954: Emilio Pucci
1955: Pierre Balmain, Grace Kelly, Sally Kirkland
1957: Coco Chanel
1958: Yves Saint Laurent
1959: Rosalind Russell, Arnold Scaasi
1960: Dinah Shore
1961: Greer Garson, Roger Vivier
1962: Estée Lauder, Sports Illustrated
1963: Georges Braque
1964: Geoffrey Beene
1967: Valentino, Fiamma Ferragamo
1968: Oscar de la Renta, Kenneth Jay Lane
1969: Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Emanuel Ungaro, Gloria Vanderbilt
1973: Ralph Lauren, Levi Strauss, Hanae Mori, Missoni, Jean Muir
1979: Giorgio Armani, Richard Avedon, Baccarat, Perry Ellis, Mary McFadden
1980: Karl Lagerfeld, Judith Leiber
1984: Issey Miyake
1995: Jean-Paul Goude, Stanley Marcus, Grace Mirabella, Miuccia Prada
2013: Karl Lagerfeld
2016: Carolina Herrera