Friday, June 21, 2013

"Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf's"...

... but bury me at Bloomingdale's.

This New Yorker cartoon by Victoria Roberts was the inspiration for a just-released documentary about the iconic Manhattan department store. Bergdorf's was never my personal agora of choice. You had to (have to) be really rich to shop there. It isn't the sort of place you can sneak into and hope no one will realize you couldn't possibly be a customer.

Aside: There is a story in the film about a bag lady who wandered into the fur salon and did indeed buy a sable coat with cash she was carrying— in one of her bags.

"Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" opened here some forty miles beyond its target audience. Nevertheless I was one of five people at a 7:30 PM screening on a Friday night at an otherwise packed 30 screen exurban multiplex.

Location, location, location

As for New York City shopping— Henri Bendel was quirky and fun. Altman's, Bonwit's, even Saks were dependable and reasonable. Bloomingdale's was the happening place for the young and hip. From the model rooms for ogling to the best selection of tights in town, Bloomingdale's was THE place to get inspired or get a wardrobe.

The film interviews the usual fashion celebs such as Joan Rivers, Rachel Zoe, Robert Verdi, industry pros from Karl Lagerfeld to Michael Kors to Giorgio Armani (via subtitles) and Bergdorf big wigs. Linda Fargo, Bergdorf's senior vice president of everything, is relatively unknown to the public but comes off especially well. Comparisons to Anna Wintour are definitely on Linda's side.

Linda Fargo holds the keys to the kingdom

Our local reviewer pointed out that Bergdorf's is "like the last totem of an almost-vanished New York where women wore pearls and people talked like Arlene Francis and Bennett Cerf... Bergdorf's is what's left of that world."

Because I knew I could never afford anything at Bergdorf's, I never went in. The windows, on the other hand, were and are a treat for all. "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" spends a lot of time on the windows. For anyone interested in the art of creating magic behind plate glass, it might be worth the trip to your equivalent of the AMC Gulf Pointe 30, or wherever they've buried "Bergdorf's" in your neck of the woods.

Window shopping is free to all


  1. I kept hoping my local "art" theater would show it, but so far, no luck. Maybe Netflix will come through for those of us in the hinterlands.

    I had forgotten how popular Bloomingdales was until I ran across an old (1970s) 60 Minutes feature on Saturdays at the store.

  2. By the looks of the kind of distribution they seem to be giving "Scatter", Netflix may come through sooner rather than later. Yes, Bloomingdale's was Everything in the '60s and '70s. I can still remember the way the upper floors smelled! They were heated with eucalyptus oil. I will have to investigate that feature.