GREEN IS IN: Decades after she helped leagues of designers become well-known names, Geraldine Stutz will be honored posthumously Tuesday, when a renovated Harlem garden is celebrated in her honor.
In addition to having lilies, rhododendrons and many of her favorite plants that are meant to accent the river birches that line both sides of the La Casita Community Garden, the community space will have a stage for performances and a projection screen for educational purposes among other features.
Stutz, who died in 2005, broke ground in American retail by serving as president of Henri Bendel for 29 years until 1986. Her trust aims to pay tribute to her contribution to the fashion industry, her love of theater and zeal for gardening by funding the garden at 223 East 119th Street. The Stutz Trust has sponsored the transformation and will cover its long-term maintenance through the New York Restoration Project’s Gardens for New Yorkers campaign.
In her years at Henri Bendel, Stutz helped advance the careers of Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, Mary McFadden and Sonia Rykiel. Known to think of fashion as more than clothes, she added a flower shop, a tiny art gallery and other unexpected discoveries to the store in the Street of Shops corridor.
The NYRP’s founder Bette Midler will lead Tuesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the garden. Stutz, a former Upper East Sider, will also be honored by her stepdaughter Emma Turner.