As we endure the interminable wait for the ending of Mad Men, I think of Peggy and Don and all the things she has learned from him. Personally, the only finale I will be satisfied with is his complete subjugation to her. But, of the many tricks she’s learned, my favorite is that they go to the movies when they need to clear their heads. Me? I prefer to go to Bergdorf Goodman.
My affinity for the store dates back to the late 70’s when my finances were in such shambles no store in their right mind would issue me credit. Bergdorf’s did and I accepted their card as a cosmic sign that I belonged.
Shopping there leaves me with a feeling of exhilaration. Most stores hit you at the door with displays that say “you don’t know what you want but THIS IS IT!!!” Bergdorf’s approach is more “we got it, you figure it out.” It’s this process of discovery I enjoy. Plus the quality is so good it’s pretty hard to make a mistake.
Department stores usually capitalize on trends when a designer spots something new or fresh on the street. Corporate meetings are held and studies are conducted. Tiny, pre-teen Laotian hands are then lined up to do the delicate stitching. After several months preparing the marketing campaign, the shipping of mass quantities begins. The item hits the store to the fanfare of “Look What’s New!” The arty kids see it and think, “oh yeah, we did that a year ago.”
Bergdorf’s feels different. Their production schedule may be just as lengthy but their merchandise always appears unique and challenging. Maybe they are more nimble because they aren’t a chain.
They are also not afraid to take chances (see above re: my credit). The store’s reputation for excellent taste makes them easy to trust. Do I really need a pair of crotchless ski pants? If Bergdorf is carrying them maybe I do.
Whenever I visit I’m exposed to new designers I’ve never heard of. Bergdorf’s knows talent. After all, Halston got his start here. And Jackie was a customer for decades. What’s not to love?
Still it’s hard to justify cross-country shopping when Manhattan is so expensive. If you are willing to travel at certain times of year, however, it can be affordable. Those times would be any of the days in mid to late January.
These two-day trips are completely dependent on the weather and the airlines cooperating. Day 1 is consumed by flying time and zone changes. You no more finish your breakfast sandwich than, theoretically, it’s time for dinner. I often end up ordering the over-priced room service burger at 10:00 pm to conserve energy and fool the body clock.
That energy is needed for Day 2 when you force yourself up at 7 am (4 am California time) to find coffee, shower, and walk over for the 10:00 opening. There’s a five hour window before you need to return to the airport. You can sleep on the way home (maybe).
So, having secured cheap airfare and a very cheap rate at the Westin, I’m going cobweb clearing.
Ben and Rags were part of the 70’s Polk Street/Chicken Little’s/Matinee social scene until they moved to New York around 1977. Ben went to work for Andy Warhol. Rags did something too, though I can’t remember exactly what other than laughing a lot and having a good time.
Rags and Ben were close with Halston and his partner Victor Hugo. They partied with them at their Lenox Hill home and vacationed with them out in Montauk. When Victor gave him the Jackie note, Rags immediately thought of my collection. The next time he was in San Francisco he presented it to me.
Jackie’s note writing was mentioned by Senator Kennedy when he eulogized her. “At the end, she worried more about us than herself. She let her family and friends know she was thinking of them. How cherished were those wonderful notes in her distinctive hand on her powder blue stationary.”
We’ll find out just how cherished when the hammer comes down at Bonhams.
The wedding invitation, 1953
The place setting menu for the State Dinner where Pablo Casals played. He’d previously performed at the White House in 1904 but vowed never again after the US recognized the Franco regime. Jackie coaxed him back. There’s a coffee stain on the back which leads me to believe this was Ethel’s.
In his diaries, Warhol mentions being at one of Jackie’s annual Christmas parties and how Warren Beatty cornered her to whisper raunchy nothings into her ear. Jackie dismissed him with a cool, “Oh Warren.”
The Sexiest Man Alive of 1988’s birth announcement
Reading between the lines one can almost hear her huge sigh of relief
Herb Caen ran a piece on Mrs. O being unhappy with her manicurist selling her Christmas note to a Manhattan book shop. The next time I was in New York I visited the store and, amazingly, it was still available.