NEW YORK — Corinne Coombe, a veteran of luxury retail and fashion firms who was instrumental in the rise of Bergdorf Goodman in the Eighties, died Thursday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center here.
She died of an infection after surgery at the hospital, said her husband, Roger, who declined to disclose her age. “She was a very private lady,” he said.
Coombe was part of the team that transformed Bergdorf Goodman into one of the world’s leading luxury emporiums in the Eighties and a magnet for designer collections. She worked closely with Ira Neimark, who was chief executive officer, and Dawn Mello, the store’s former president. Coombe served as general merchandise manager for the store, with all of the divisional merchandise managers reporting to her.
“She had a remarkable talent for merchandising with an unusual understanding of the luxury business,” said Mello, who was also a friend.
“Corinne had incredible standards, great taste and amazing sense of style,” said Joseph Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s ready-to-wear and children’ at Saks Fifth Avenue, who worked with Coombe at Bergdorf’s. “She was an instrumental part of the building process at Bergdorf’s.”
In the late Seventies, Coombe worked at the former B. Altman, where she was a dmm of rtw. Mello and Neimark also worked at Altman’s, and they recruited her after moving on to Bergdorf Goodman.
Among her other jobs in the luxury arena, Coombe served as executive vice president and director of merchandising for Gucci America, president of Gianfranco Ferré USA and president of Baccarat in the U.S., from which she retired in 2002.
She was a native of San Francisco and had worked at the former I. Magnin chain before relocating to New York City.
In addition to her husband, Coombe is survived by three sisters, Veronica, Agnes and Cassandra; two brothers, Thomas and David, as well as six nieces and nephews. Burial today will be private. A memorial service is scheduled for June 22. Details will be announced.