The Fashion Sanctuary: Bergdorf Goodman

September 2, 2009

Very rarely do we ever speak of the department stores that house some of our favorite designers, and some undiscovered gems. For this reason, I absolutely must tell you about some of these places that are pretty much fashion churches. We have to dress a certain way to attend, we must be respectful of what is inside, and we must pay the utmost thanks to the people who made all the clothing and accessories that surround us while we are in these sanctuaries.

Today we are gonna start with the almighty BG: Bergdorf Goodman. In 1899 the company kind of started when an Alsace immigrant, Herman Bergdorf, opened a tailor shop just above Union Square in Manhattan. As an employee of Herman’s, Edwin Goodman, purchased the store in 1906 and moved it to 5th avenue.

In 1914 Goodman became the first couturier to introduce ready to wear.

In 1928 the store moved to its current location at 5th and 58th. Goodman’s son Andrew, who was the president, opened a fur salon, made a perfume called Bergdorf Goodman Number Nine, and created Miss Bergdorf, a line for younger customers.


In 1953 Goodman retired as the most celebrated merchant of his time.

During the 60’s and 70’s BG wasn’t doing so well. They tried to build other BG’s but only one in White Plains, NY was made in 1972 which was made into a Neiman Marcus in 1981. In order to pull them up from this slump they hired Dawn Mello in 1975 as the vice president of fashion.

Dawn was able to bring life to this conservative store making it more successful. She was named president in 1984. She left in 89 to work for Gucci and returned to BG as the president again in 1994. The CEO of Bergdorf Goodman today is James J. Gold.

So in the 90’s the Chairman and CE Ira Neimark enlarged the women’s store by 300% resulting in the men’s store having to move across the street to the old FAO Schwartz space. Poor guys!


BG was just beginning to get bigger and bigger. In 1997, the former Goodman Family house, the penthouse at the top of the store was made into the John Barrett Salon and Susan Ciminelli Day Spa. More spas opened in 1999 under the main floor and a cafe.

Dramatic renovations took place in 2002 on the main floor of the women’s store. This lead to the introduction of the new boutiques of Gucci, Chanel, Armani, Versace, and YSL in 2003. In 2004 their website launched to bring their goods across America. Though, I feel like it just recently got really good.

As you can see BG is like one the resting places of luxury. I mean seriously, they have Fur storage to hold your furs over the summer. Really? You even get the option of having your fur glazed. What on God’s green earth does that mean?


Anyways BG has a lot of other unique aspects. Like their infamous windows. Some windows are dressed by regular sales associates whose bosses told them to do it last minute and give the sale associate get their pick of the clothes in which to dress it. Not here! BG’s windows require way more work. I mean these people are wearing construction hats, to build a window display. YES! It’s that serious.

This is a store that focuses more on the act of shopping, making it an entire sensory experience that you pay for through the prices of the clothing. However , to some, the experience is priceless and I think that everyone should at least experience the luxurious way of buying designer clothing at least once, even if its only a lipstick. The joy that one feels with the BG bag swaying from their wrists as they proudly walk out of the large doors is something that can not be described.

So the reason I think it is important to be aware of these stores beyond the surface level is because these are the places where designers are given their chance to shine. Though it is owned by Neiman Marcus, it still serves its own space in the hearts of fashion lovers everywhere. I also think there is a great deal of effort and thought that are put into the window designs that they should be admired by the world and serve as an inspiration to its onlookers.

This is a store that focuses more on the act of shopping, making it an entire sensory experience that you pay for through the prices of the clothing. However , to some, the experience is priceless and I think that everyone should at least experience the luxurious way of buying designer clothing at least once, even if its only a lipstick. The joy that one feels with the BG bag swaying from their wrists as they proudly walk out of the large doors is something that can not be described. Fashion is not only an art, it is a life style and an experience.

Enjoy the pics!





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