MARVIN TRAUB: 75 YEARS YOUNG
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — The indefatigable Marvin Traub celebrated his 75th birthday at Bloomingdale’s on Sunday, in a sentimental evening reuniting scores of retail and fashion executives whose lives have intersected with his.
The flagship’s fifth floor was crammed with about 380 guests, including Ralph and Ricky Lauren, Allen and Kelli Questrom, Ira and Jackie Neimark, Burt and Rita Tansky, and of course, past and present Bloomingdale’s executives and top designer executives.
“I think I am one of the most fortunate people alive,” Traub told the crowd.
The former Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive, who retired from the store in 1992 and has reinvented himself as a retail and fashion consultant, thanked Bloomingdale’s ceo Michael Gould, president Jeffrey Sherman and senior vice president Anne Keating for hosting the party.
“There is no more appropriate place to celebrate Marvin’s 75th birthday than this building,” said Gould. “But this is just a building — no different from other buildings. It’s the people here that make Bloomingdale’s different, and Marvin has touched all of these people.”
“He just keeps going and going, and we all continue to be beneficiaries,” said Kelli Questrom. “He’s an example for all of us,” added Guy Peyrelongue, ceo of Cosmair.
It’s not just his colleagues who feel that way. “He crams more meetings in a hour than anyone does in a day,” said Andy Traub, one of Marvin’s three children.
Traub is juggling more than a few offices. At the moment, he is chairman of The House Company chain and Johnny Walker Apparel, senior adviser at Financo and a consultant for Coin department stores in Italy, Lanvin in Paris, Ralph Lauren Media and the redevelopment of the former Coliseum on Columbus Circle. Commenting on that project, Traub said, “It will be the largest building in North America, with 2.8 million square feet.” The project will include two 70-story towers, a Mandarin Hotel, upscale residences, Time Warner offices and 600,000 square feet for upscale retail and restaurants. Traub said the project would be open in fall 2003.
Rather than recounting Traub’s storied successes, like his extravagant import promotions and lavish parties that gave Bloomingdale’s global brand recognition, guests and family seized the occasion to roast Traub.
Carl Levine, a former Bloomingdale’s home general merchandise manager, dispelled perceptions that Traub “is not particularly witty.” According to Levine, Rupert Murdoch once asked Traub why Bloomingdale’s didn’t advertise in The New York Post, and Traub reportedly responded, “Because your readers are our shoplifters.”
“I don’t know what I can say about Marvin that he hasn’t already said about himself,” joked Lauren. “I started out younger than Marvin. Now I’m older than him.”
Then Lauren, whose Polo empire got off the ground when he sold Traub neckties some 30 years ago, turned serious, acknowledging, “More than anybody else, Marvin is responsible for developing my career.”
A little later, it was wife Lee Traub’s turn to speak. “We’ve been married for 51 years,” she said, “and I’ve loved him for 52.”