Sometimes, a store is not just a store.
Bergdorf Goodman, the New York City department store, is a utopia for luxury wear, sought-after shoes and beauty's best. Since 1901, it's been the go-to spot for hot (and haute) styles for celebrities and commoners and has seen its share of memorable moments. Barbra Streisand sang and danced across the main floor for a CBS special in the 1960s. In the 1980s, rising designer Michael Kors had his first collection sold there. A couple of years later, Joan Rivers and Miss Piggy worked -- and were fired -- in the beauty department while filming "The Muppets Take Manhattan."
Bergdorf Goodman is recollecting these and other memories from its storied and stylish past as part of its 111th anniversary, under way now at its home in the former Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street.
The celebration marks the first time Bergdorf Goodman has observed an anniversary since 1951, when a gala attended by such notables as Ethel Merman and the Rockefeller family was held at the nearby Plaza Hotel. This time, without receiving an invitation or even stepping inside the store, passers-by can soak up some of the celebratory spirit. Its exterior is wrapped in a mammoth ribbon done in the store's signature shade of pale purple, transforming it into a larger-than-life birthday present.
Display windows also are dressed up for the occasion. Some whisk browsers through an abridged history of the store with archival photos, illustrations, magazine and newspaper clips and women's wear. Others chart the evolution of fashion in New York City over the past century through a dozen costumes.
Inside, tables and glass cases show off selections from the anniversary collection. More than 100 designers, including Oscar de la Renta, Jimmy Choo, Marchesa and Valentino, created exclusive clothes, accessories, home decor items, shoes and more in honor of the milestone. They range from sparkling studded platform pumps from Christian Louboutin ($3,995) and an Akris dress bearing a graphic of the storefront ($3,990) to cuff links ($395) and a festive Bergdorf Goodman purple umbrella ($45).
Another memento is the "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman" book ($35), a 240-page salute to the store's influence on style, told by those it has impacted. Vera Wang reminisces about going there as a child. A salesman writes about visiting John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Dakota Building apartment to sell the couple furs. Susan Lucci, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera and Isaac Mizrahi are some of the others with featured anecdotes.
A documentary by the same name also debuted this month. The 90-minute film by Matthew Miele takes viewers behind the scenes of Bergdorf Goodman and how it came to be the fashion powerhouse it is today.
That rise to style staple dates to 1901, when Edwin Goodman and Herman Bergdorf set up a dress atelier at Fifth Avenue and 19th Street. By 1914, advertisements in magazines such as Vogue described it as the first couturier to carry ready-to-wear ensembles. It ushered its offerings uptown in 1928 to the store's current location, where the Goodman family, nicknamed "the first family of fashion," lived in an apartment on the top floor for more than five decades.
In 1990, a men's store opened across the street from the flagship, which focuses on women's wear. In recent years, Bergdorf Goodman has expanded its reach beyond Fifth Avenue, with a website (www.bergdorfgoodman.com), quarterly catalog, blog and shoe obsession app at the disposal of fashionistas around the world.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published September 25, 2012 4:00 AM