Bergdorf Goodman Gala

111 Shades of Extraordinary!

Bergdorf Goodman was founded in 1901. They celebrated their 50th birthday in 1951, but let their 75th pass quietly; and their 100th anniversary unfortunately coincided with 9/11, so they decided to forego a celebration. But on September 4th, they turned 111, and they are marking the milestone big time. As it turns out, the odd number is not only apropos, but quite symbolic as there is only ONE Bergdorf Goodman in the world. One store in one city, providing one singular luxury experience (“One store, one city, one experience” is how they put it). This free standing “pinnacle of style, service and inspiration” is, simply put, a singular sensation and truly 111 of a kind (just one 1 doesn’t seem to do it justice).

Joshua Schulman and Linda Fargo

It has been a season of celebration starting several months ago. An over sized lavender ribbon, with iconic vintage silhouette packaging is wrapping the entire building; the legendary Fifth Avenue windows were unveiled with the theme “111 years of Extraordinary”; there have been new shop-in shops; 111 designers designed 111 special limited edition products; and there was a party in honor of “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman” by Sara James Mnookin, (an anthology of personal recollections from notable designers, celebrities, writers and employees), with an attending 90 minute documentary.

FYI, on their website, Bergdorf Goodman asks if you have a “special recollection of Bergdorf Goodman” you’d like to share with them. If so, write and they will post the best on their blog. Their favorite will be included in the book published to celebrate their 111th anniversary next year. Well, I most certainly did. It was in September 2008, when they honored Bill Cunningham. The store, and their 5th Avenue windows, were filled with collages of his more memorable On the Street and Evening Hours columns. It was most thrilling and flattering, not to mention an out of body experience, to see myself in several of the collages, including a few in those fabulous windows, where there were also two blown up cardboard images of me.

Jenny Shimizu and Michelle Violy Harper

The festivities were capped off last evening when the iconic retailer hosted an anniversary party at The Plaza (equally iconic for that matter). And a jam packed one it was. While approximately 200 were reportedly invited, I would put that figure at quite a bit higher, and it often times felt like one major (fashion) traffic jam as invited guests, a who’s who of fashion, retail, media, publishing, the arts, and society, rubbed shoulders (and every other body part it seemed), as they made their way from the red carpet to cocktails, and then inside the Terrace Room for dinner and dancing.

Karolina Kurkova

The invitation had the directive: “Dress Extraordinary”, and within the realms of fashion, that means be creative where anything goes. And it did. There were short cocktail dresses, long gowns in every imaginable fabrication, pantsuits, decorated jackets, and a smattering of eccentric head wear – even on the guys (well, Patrick McDonald, anyway). Some were dressed “to the nines” (or should I say 111’s), and others were chicly dressed down.

I especially looked forward to seeing how Linda Fargo would interpret this, as she always outdoes herself and once admitted, “I love a good theme” (if this isn’t a good theme, I don’t know what is). She did not disappoint, selecting an Akris custom made gown printed with the image of Bergdorf Goodman’s facade, the same print lining the black coat. It was dramatic, glamorous, and of course, perfect for the occasion.

DJ Chelsea Leyland

The list is too long to name everyone, but among those who attended were Bergdorf Goodman’s Jim Gold, Linda Fargo, Josh Schulman, and Neiman Marcus’s Ira Neimark, Burton Tansky, Joan Kaner; Anna Wintour (clad in Raf Simons for Dior’s spring 2013 floral ballskirt and black fitted top, straight off the Paris runway), Glenda Bailey, Michael Kors, Zac Posen, Gilles Mendel, Peter Dundas, Prabal Gurung, Derek Lam, Ralph Rucci, Iris and Carl Apfel, Amy Fine Collins, Kim Hastreiter, Lynn Yaeger, John Demsey, Cecilia Dean, Jenny Shimizu, Michelle Violy Harper, and almost every major runway model in the business (many of whom arrived on the arms of a designer), and all of whom wore dresses that nobody else could possibly look good in, or get away with, as if to prove why they’re worth the big bucks.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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