Published by Harper Design
Publication date: August 28th 2012
If you’re fortunate, you can remember the days when visiting your local department store was a cherished tradition, whether it was for your fall school wardrobe, to see the Christmas windows, or for a dressed up lunch with grandma. The days when Sibley’s, Filene’s, Rich’s, The Bon Marche, and ZCMI had restaurants, bakeries and candy counters, book departments and doormen in gloves. When thoughts of sales per square foot were still decades away and strolling through the wide aisles of your favorite store was a leisurely experience unimpeded by too many racks and a plethora of sales signs. If any of these set your mind to wandering then Holly Brubach’s Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman is a book to treasure. Bergdorf Goodman is the iconic department store in New York City, one of the only of its kind—a store that never expanded beyond one location, making it a destination for shoppers of every kind. The book begins with a marvelous history of the store from its humble beginnings to the day when Edwin Goodman bought the current property and built his dream store.
Indeed Goodman designed the Renaissance Revival interiors—with soaring ceilings and intricate plasterwork—so that his privileged clients would feel they were in an extension of their own homes. They did. So did he. He moved his family into the penthouse above the store.
After the introduction Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman is divided into chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of the store: as retail therapy, its shoppers, its designers, and finally the people who have gone on record saying they want to be buried there.
Shoppers encompasses a wide variety of celebrities, socialites, and women with the financial wherewithal to make Bergdorf Goodman their home away from home. They share their stories as do the store personnel, who are a significant part of making BG what it is. The humorous stories of Joan Rivers, Rachel Zoe, and Pat Cleveland allow the reader a glimpse into a world of shopping not found outside NYC. For actress Susan Lucci,
It was like the Emerald City. It was Oz in New York in terms of shopping.
In Designers, handbag designer Nancy Gonzalez shares the experience of her first collection of eight bags going into the store and her overwhelming fear that it would not sell. She was so concerned that she went into the store herself and paid full price for two of her own bags. Other designers such as Isaac Mizrahi, Michael Kors, Manolo Blahnik, and Donna Karan share their memories of beginning their careers and building their careers with Bergdorf Goodman.
Additionally, there are marvelous historical anecdotes such as the fact that Jackie Kennedy had asked the Ethel Frankau, the fashion director at Bergdorf’s, for suggestions for her clothes for inauguration day and with the help of Diana Vreeland they had begun designs. President Kennedy, thinking to help his wife, asked his friend Oleg Cassini to design outfits as a surprise. What could have ended as a political fashion disaster was averted when Mrs. Kennedy suggested that Cassini make her day outfit and Bergdorf’s her gown—both of which were the beginning of Kennedy’s ascendency as a fashion icon.
Not only is Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman filled with details and charming reminiscences of this iconic store but it is visually accurate as well, with a soft lavender dust jacket (the same color as Bergdorf’s shopping bags) and heavy glossy white pages that appeal not only to the eye but to the touch much in the same way displays and clothes do in the store. In addition to the stories there are also photographs and illustrations of the store and its advertising. Whether or not you’ve ever been to Bergdorf Goodman this whimsical, humorous book will not only delight but will evoke memories of the era of grand department stores.
Literary Tiger says
Oh this is the book for me! I’ve never had the opportunity to visit BG (and goodness, would I be able to afford it?). It’s an icon to be sure. Great review!
I think I need to read this book. I love shopping and I love history so I think this would be a real winner for me.
You will love it! As you read it brings back all kinds of shopping memories- which are almost all good, right?!