Posts Tagged ‘Bergdorf Goodman’

Mom peruses an issue of Vintage Life.

Mom peruses an issue of Vintage Life.

In my business I have witnessed how the superficial cover of clothes can become essential in trying times.

Betty Halbreich, personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman.

I know for myself (and probably my mother) that when life gets tough, I head straight to my closet for comfort. Clothes give me strength and they are something on which to focus when everything else is just too much.

This came home to me recently when my mother unexpectedly ended up in the hospital. Spending time with her there, in her hospital room, after exhaustive discussions with doctors about tests and medications, what to do and what not to do next, there would be silence. Then she’d pipe up with a sartorial topic  – anything from advice on formal wear to the current length of hemlines (too long and too short says Mom).

And off we’d go, escaping out of confusion and fear into our world of fashion. Superficial? Perhaps. But I say, Whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright, it’s alright.

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I hope one of the other 80 fur coats was a better fit for John.

One Christmas Eve back in the late 70s when John Lennon and Yoko Ono called New York City home, Yoko rang the fur salon at Bergdorf Goodman and got the manager, John Cohen. She asked if he would,  “… come over to the apartment tonight because John wants to buy some furs for me.”

Since it had been a slow season for fur and this was a celebrity request, Mr. Goodman told Mr. Cohen to oblige the lady. So, he and an assistant carted over several chests of furs and for over two hours Yoko pulled out coat after coat saying to John, “This is for my sister and this is good for you and …” The couple bought close to 80 fur coats. EIGHTY coats for a grand total of over $400,000. Imagine all the people (and animals) who could have benefited from that kind of money.

Mr. Cohen ended the story by saying this had never been done before and that night he slept very well. It was a Merry Christmas after all, for some.

This is one of many interesting tales recounted in the documentary film, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s by Matthew Miele. Bergdorf Goodman is an iconic NYC luxury department store known for the best in merchandise and excellent personal shopper services.



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33bbc0609735fe337ef2f9222e9269d2Oh dear it was so pleasant when I didn’t have to wear hats! They will pauperize me + I still feel absurd in them!

– Jackie Kennedy in a letter to Marita O’Connor, a saleswoman in the hat department at Bergdorf Goodman, written just before John Kennedy’s inauguration.

In November, 1960  Mrs. Kennedy wrote to Bergdorf’s announcing plans to purchase some of her clothing from the high-end New York City department store. From then on she wrote regularly ordering specially made dresses and accessories, including those pauperizing hats (many designed by Halston). She often added sketches with her correspondence.

How interesting that the First Lady, the woman who made the pillbox hat fashionable, was not at all a hat gal. Perhaps she was uncomfortable because she sported a bouffant, not a hairdo friendly to hats.

The pillbox style dates back to Roman times and was used as a military hat. Later the shape was popular with brides. Mrs. Kennedy wore hers large and at the back, allowing the fullness of her hair to remain.


What do you think of Jackie in a hat?

What an intriguing comment she makes – that hats “pauperize me.”  Pauperize? Interesting word choice as the definition of pauper is one who is poor and dependant on public funds. Could she really have meant that hats made her look destitute?

I surmise that the comment was really more classist. Given that at the time hats were an accessory all woman wore (and men come to think of it), perhaps what she meant was that for her, as the First Lady, to sport a hat would make her look common. A shocking thing to say today but when you consider the era and Mrs. Kennedy’s background as a debutant and a finishing school graduate, it fits. Afterall, one cannot be common and live in Camelot.

Despite how she might have felt, hats were the done thing and evidently to not wear one would have been considered disrespectful. So, she obliged by having hers custom-made, often matching her coats.

The collection of handwritten notes along with other Kennedy memorabilia were scheduled to be auctioned off November 22 to 24 in Amesbury, MA.

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