MAKING BOOK AT BERGDORF’S
Byline: Valerie Seckler
NEW YORK — Holly Golightly would have been perfectly at home at Bergdorf’s book-signing bash for one of its own last Tuesday.
The party was actually for Betty Halbreich, longtime personal fashion consultant at Bergdorf Goodman and author of just-published “Secrets of a Fashion Therapist.” She was feted at the Fifth Avenue flagship amid a flurry of waitresses clad in mod, Sixties-inspired clothes, who served up campy cocktails and retro hors d’oeuvres like pigs in blankets — all of it reflecting Halbreich’s whimsical fashion sensibility.
“Everyone wants to know how they look,” said Halbreich of the question she is asked most often. “Then they tell me they have nothing to wear, even though they have closets and closets full of clothes.”
As director of Bergdorf’s Solutions department for 21 years, Halbreich has helped women create their own styles. Her roster of well-heeled clients includes Betty Buckley, Susan Lucci, Stockard Channing, Joan Rivers, Jane Curtain, and Betty Cronkite, who attended the party with husband Walter.
With the publication of Fashion Therapist, Halbreich is offering her style counsel to a broader swath of consumers. “The same questions get asked again and again,” she said of the inspiration for the book.
“Once you identify your style, you’re ready to have fun with fashion,” Halbreich advised. “People who shop at J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart want the same kind of fashion as people who shop at Bergdorf’s.
“That’s what we’re trying to get across in the book — to make fashion simple and fun for everyone,” she added of the edition, written with Sally Wadyka and published by Cliff Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
And Halbreich’s top tip? “Clean the closet!” she exclaimed. “The most marvelous thing is to go into a closet and see air between the hangers.” When women empty their closets of apparel they don’t wear, it becomes easier to work with the remaining wardrobe, Halbreich pointed out. “As it gets easier, it becomes more fun,” she assured.
Surveying the 200 or so guests who turned out to celebrate the publication of her book, Halbreich said, “The fashion therapy concept comes from working one-to-one with clients, and somehow I’ve gotten into these people’s heads.
“I really am amazed at all my friends who have come out tonight,” she added. “It is very heartwarming.”
Among Halbreich’s party pals were Jane and Erin Lauder and Jeffrey Banks. “Betty gave me my first job in New York, 26 years ago,” recalled Susan Hays Stern, who has retired from the business. “She’s still giving me fashion advice. She has a solution for every fashion problem.”