A yellow mop bucket shouldn’t be placed on the main floor at Bergdorf Goodman. It is also wrong to leave a Windex bottle with a dusty pink rag on the main floor of Bergdorf Goodman. It’s like running into a teacher outside of school, or walking into a movie theater brightened by overhead lights. There’s a sense that you’re not supposed to be seeing this right now.
Yet the theme of Bergdorf Goodman this holiday season — there is a theme every year, which dictates the famous window decorations — is “magic in the making.” And this is how the magic of Bergdorf Goodman is made before doors open. It is 9:47 am. The marble floors are being cleaned. There is no music playing yet, which means the clicking white noise of the handbag security tags is still audible: a constant tapping that can’t be unheard once it’s identified.
Or, it’s 9:24 AM in the gilded jewel salon. Pieces are being unpacked in soft beige boxes after they have been stored overnight in safes. You can see the safes of three of them, which are nearly touching the ceiling of a back office cramped enough to hold three employees of Bergdorf. You can win an $8,550 watch from a luxury European brand if you sell $75,000 of that brand’s luxury European brand. Secrets are another safe, as jewelry can reach $1.6million at the moment.
It is now 10 minutes before the doors open and lines are already forming in front. Outside the 58th Street revolving doors, a blonde septuagenarian wearing a black beanie looks inside and enjoys a smoke. She has lived on Park Avenue for 47 years, she said, but also lives “in France and in many places, as we Greeks do.” She has come to shop Saint Laurent and meet friends for lunch.
With purpose and experience, the first few people to enter the door move with purpose. They are not present at 10 a.m. to browse. They are not here at 10 a.m. to browse. Who is the one who brings 2022’s visitors through the doors of departmental stores? has generally declinedOnline shopping has taken over?
Bergdorf Goodman is unlike other stores. This is the obvious answer. It is the only one in New York City that is lavishly decorated and has a large selection. It is almost a century-old, but somehow it has been ingrained in pop culture and news.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle released a documentary last week that revealed that a friend of Meghan Markle said she found out about their relationship in 2016 while having tea at Bergdorf Goodman and drinking champagne. (There was also an 2013 version. documentary(See the comments below about the store. E. Jean Carroll, a writer accused Donald J. Trump in 2019 of rape. has deniedIt was alleged that the incident occurred at Bergdorf Goodman. crucialThe way that the media presented the story.
The less obvious answer to why people shop here, which sinks in after spending a day in the store, arriving before opening and staying until after closing — 10 hours and 32 minutes of meandering through the back rooms and sales floors — is that Bergdorf Goodman is a place where shoppers are rarely, as a matter of store policy, ever told “no.”
Later that Day. …
Here are two things sold to two shoppers during the first two and a half hours of business on Bergdorf Goodman’s street level: a practical black leather no-logo messenger bag by Akris ($1,590) and a pair of diamond teardrop-shaped earrings by Verdura ($33,500), whose purchaser planned to wear with a sky blue Oscar de la Renta gown.
Many floors higher, additional orders were being made for messenger delivery of Manhattan residences. One included five sweaters and jackets (from Dior, Alaïa and Fendi) totaling just under $10,000. A few ornaments were also purchased by the customer.
Bergdorf Goodman considers Christmas serious business. According to a representative of the company, around 800 ornaments will be sold in-store by this time, which is almost 90 per hour. (The store didn’t provide a daily customer count. Neiman Marcus Group, the owner of Bergdorf Goodman is a privately-held company.
Out of sight from the shoppers looking for crystal Santa Claus heads or (now sold out) miniature glass renderings of French onion soup — away from the shelves of nonedible gingerbread houses for $1,500, a price in line with what a New Yorker with a roommate might pay in monthly rent — a woman named Theresa Herbert was wrapping gifts bought from the décor department.
Ms. Herbert spent her shift meticulously gluing white tissue paper into silver containers. After wrapping the boxes, she used five strands and purple bows.
She estimated that she would have wrapped 50 gifts by the time she finished her shift. Her station wall was covered in schedules, thank you cards, Post-it notes, and drawings of female comic-book characters made from cardboard by a colleague. Ms. Herbert said she has worked for Bergdorf Goodman in various capacities since 1999.
“I don’t even wrap my own Christmas presents,” she said, laughing. “I do bags.”
Ms. Herbert, who is hidden in the shipping department of Bergdorf Goodman, doesn’t have much contact with customers every day. They walk the halls of offices and storerooms where signs remind them that Everybody Water (a brand of water in a box) is not for everyone.
Jeffrey Delgado is an employee at the opposite end of this spectrum. His customer relationships are a part of his wardrobe. He wears stacks upon stacks of beaded bracelets that he was given by customers at the BG Restaurant on the seventh floor. This busy Midtown restaurant is known for its chopped salad, and people-watching.
A chef was making lobster bisque in a small kitchen when I entered.
Mr. Delgado gave a tour of his wrists. “Each one has a different story,” he said. “This one with the whale tail came from a lady who was on her way to Venice. She was like: ‘I have a very special one in my house in Hawaii. I’ll be back in a month, and I’m going to bring it.’”
He wore 27 bracelets that day, but he also had many more at home. Some were too expensive to wear every day, he explained. For his birthday, a customer from Mexico gifted him a Balenciaga Bracelet. He asked him to open it when home.
These kinds of relationships are not common. Bergdorf Goodman had a long-standing personal shopping service. Outside the restaurant, there are frames of letters that Jacqueline Kennedy sent to her personal shopper. These letters were sent before the inauguration by John F. Kennedy. Bergdorf Goodman was believed to have purchased the Halston-designed pillbox headdress that she wore on the assassination day. The store’s most well-known personal shopper, Betty Halbreich, wrote books about style based on her reputationTruth telling
Jin Hye Edwards, a stylist from Seoul, was greeting Cristina Wallach, a client, in a luxury dressing room on the fourth level. Ms. Wallach met Ms. Edwards a year before they became close friends. Ms. Wallach invited Ms. Edwards along to a Bulgari party at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in October. “My husband doesn’t like that kind of thing,” Ms. Wallach said.
Ms. Edwards had pulled a number of cardigans and tees from Loewe and Givenchy, among others, for Ms. Wallach’s consideration. She was preparing for a trip to Asia and didn’t have time to shop for herself, she said.
“I like to spend time on other things,” said Ms. Wallach, who described herself as a former rock singer. While singing in a Malaysian restaurant, she met her husband, who was then a Booz-Allen consultant. They currently live in Pennsylvania and Ms. Edwards has visited their Chelsea apartment. “It’s beautiful, three floors, and the top has a Jacuzzi,” Ms. Edwards said, adding that it required a crane to install.
Ms. Wallach, who ordered a plate of roast chicken brought to her dressing room, said that didn’t “like to bother anyone, and I like to have my own space.”
“I don’t normally want to be pampered like this,” she said, “but I really had no time to eat.”
Employees here are encouraged to never say no, and that’s how a fashion collector named Yawen Gao ended up in a sixth floor fitting room, zipping herself into a pair of Schiaparelli boots that aren’t available to the public.
Last year, Schiaparelli opened a boutique in Bergdorf Goodman, its first store in the United States to sell the brand’s surreal clothing and anatomical accessories, like a leather bag affixed with a septum-pierced nose.
Daniel Roseberry was the Schiaparelli artistic Director and designed tall platform boots in black with gold carved toes. Janicza Bravo, director of Schiaparelli, wore a shorter version to the Met Gala, but they weren’t produced for sale. But Ms. Gao still wanted them. Faisal Hasan was a Bergdorf stylist who was also her friend.
It took about nine months, a trip to the Schiaparelli Place Vendôme headquarters in Paris and measurements of Ms. Gao’s feet, but at last, here she was, taking off her amphibian-esque Avavav “monster” patent leather boots in order to hoist herself into the Schiaparellis, which she said cost her about $7,000.
Except nothing is perfect, and the new boots didn’t zip all the way up her thighs. That’s OK, Mr. Hasan said, they could be professionally stretched. Ms. Gao managed to stand tall in them. She is usually 5’1 but the boots made it six feet high.
“They’re much higher than I thought,” Ms. Gao said, though she’d been warned by both Mr. Hasan and Schiaparelli. “They’ve been saying: ‘Oh, it’s dangerous, you could fall, you could get injured.’”
Yet as the sun set unreasonably early — and Bergdorf Goodman weathered what is usually its busiest hour, between 4 and 5 p.m. — it was not just fashion collectors with townhouses full of Simone Rocha and other avant-garde runway pieces shopping for shoes.
A company representative stated that the store had sold 66 pairs Chanel shoes, starting at $850 for ballerina flats. (A bartender at the restaurant claimed that he sold approximately 76 espresso Martinis each at $21 each by 6:30 p.m. and I wondered if this could be a correlation.
Laura Zatezalo, who was in New York to visit her son at Juilliard — she lives in Las Vegas and New Orleans — was trying on pairs of René Caovilla strappy beaded stilettos, marked down to about $1,000. She pulled on her Adidas gray sweatpants and took a few steps.
Ms. Zatezalo briefly thought about wearing them with a Balmain lambskin garter skirt and Balmain leather lambskin garter pants to the Box, which her son was taking her to that night.
“It might be too much,” said Ms. Zatezalo, who is interested in developing a reality show about plastic surgery consultations.
Waiting for the sales associates to return with a different size, I watched a man — one of many waiting on the couches for their companions to finish shopping — blow puffs of smoke from his vape into his Gucci hoodie. Ms. Zatezalo laughed as she concealed her vape in her hoodie’s sleeves. “My son taught me that trick,” she said.
I wasn’t convinced that vaping shoppers would have actually been scolded if caught. Bergdorf Goodman welcomes leashed dogs and offers champagne to lingering customers.
At 7 p.m., they weren’t even told the store was closing. The announcement was not made through the speakers. The music didn’t turn off. There is no shooing of customers, gentle or otherwise, who are still shopping, said Christopher O’Keeffe, the store’s director of loss prevention.
Outside, while Mr. O’Keeffe was locking the exterior doors, a few people tried to walk in. The majority left after realizing what was happening. One woman didn’t.
“Is it closed?” she asked.
“Yes, we close at 7,” Mr. O’Keeffe said.
“Is it 7 already?”
“Yes, it’s 7.”
“Is there something specific you’re looking for?”
“I just want to look at a Valentino bag.”
He opened the door for her.
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