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Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Goodman
Industry Retail
Department store
Founded New York City, New York, United States (1899 (1899))
Founder Herman Bergdorf
Headquarters 754 5th Avenue, New York, New York, United States
Number of locations
2 stores (Across 5th Avenue)
Key people
Linda Fargo (Women's Fashion Director) Bruce Pask (Men's Fashion Director)[1]
Products Luxury ready-to-wear, couture, clothing, footwear, handbags, accessories, contemporary collections, decorative home, jewelry, beauty products, and two restaurants
Parent Neiman Marcus Group
Website [ Offical Website]

Bergdorf Goodman is a luxury goods department store based on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. The company was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf and was later owned and managed by Edwin Goodman, and later his son Andrew Goodman.

Today, Bergdorf operates from two stores situated across the street from each other at Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th streets. Bergdorf Goodman's main store, which opened at its current location in 1928, is located on the west side of Fifth Avenue. A separate men's store, established in 1990, is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue, directly across the street.

Bergdorf is a subsidiary of Neiman Marcus, which is owned by the private equity firms TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus.


  • History 1
    • Founding and early history (1899–1951) 1.1
    • The second generation (1951–1972) 1.2
    • New ownership (1972–1990) 1.3
    • Reaching the centennial (1990–present) 1.4
  • In popular culture 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Founding and early history (1899–1951)

The company traces its origins to 1899 when Herman Bergdorf, an immigrant from Alsace, France, opened a tailor shop just above Union Square in downtown Manhattan.

Edwin Goodman, a 23-year-old, American Jewish merchant, based in Lockport, New York, moved to New York City to work as an apprentice for Bergdorf.[2] Within two years, Goodman had raised enough money to purchase an interest in the business, which was renamed Bergdorf Goodman in 1901. In 1906, Bergdorf Goodman moved to a new location on 32nd Street, just west of Fifth Avenue and "Ladies' Mile". While Bergdorf preferred the less expensive side street location, Goodman prevailed with the new location and bought Bergdorf's interest in the company. Bergdorf would retire to Paris.

Although Goodman had developed a good business as a ladies' tailor on 32nd Street and in 1914, decided to move uptown. Goodman constructed a five-story building at 616 Fifth Avenue, on the site of what is today Rockefeller Center.[3] In 1914, Goodman became the first couturier to introduce ready-to-wear, making Bergdorf Goodman a destination for American and French fashion.

The store moved to its present location at 5th Avenue and 58th Street in 1928, building its Beaux-Arts style store on the site of the Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion. He was unsure of the success of the new store's location, as he was uncertain whether customers would follow the store uptown. So, Goodman designed the new store so that it could be subdivided into sections with storefronts that could be rented out if needed. Early tenants included Van Cleef & Arpels, the Grande Maison de Blanc and Dobbs the Hatter.[4] During the Great Depression, however, Goodman thrived, buying the entire building. Throughout the 1930s, Goodman purchased the mortgages of the surrounding businesses, eventually acquiring the entire block. During this period, Bergdorf Goodman was successful enough to have merited an expansion beyond the single store. However, Goodman preferred to operate in a single location where he would be able to personally maintain the quality of the merchandise and service.

The second generation (1951–1972)

Miss Bergdorf dress from Taffy, designer Anne T. Hill, 1956

Goodman's son, Andrew, assumed the role of president in 1951 and succeeded as head of the company in 1953, following the death of his father.[5] Andrew was responsible for enhancing Bergdorf's reputation and expanding its range of merchandise and services.

During Andrew's tenure as chairman, Bergdorf opened a fur salon, developed the successful Bergdorf Goodman Number Nine perfume ("Love Potion Number Nine"), and created Miss Bergdorf, a ready-to-wear line for younger customers.

The store began a $1 million expansion in 1959 into two adjacent buildings. The Boys and Girls gift shop expanded into a whole floor, and the beauty salon and bridal, fur and men's departments also expanded. Eight years later, a $2.5 million expansion in 1967 nearly doubled the store's area, to 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2).[5]

New ownership (1972–1990)

In 1972, Andrew Goodman sold Bergdorf Goodman to Broadway-Hale Stores, which would become Carter Hawley Hale Stores (CHH) for $12.5 million. CHH had acquired Neiman Marcus, a three-unit operation at the time, in 1969. By the time of the sale, Bergdorf Goodman was the only large high-quality specialty store in the U.S. that remained independently owned. However, its decision not to build suburban branches left it with a relatively modest profit margin. Goodman remained the landlord of the store and kept a penthouse apartment on the building's top floor.[5]

A Badgley Mischka fur coat on display in the window of Bergdorf Goodman's Fifth Avenue store.

At first, CHH considered building branch locations, ultimately only constructing one location, in nearby White Plains, New York in 1972. This location eventually became a Neiman Marcus branch in 1981. To combat its image difficulties, the company hired Dawn Mello in 1975 as vice president of fashion. She was successful in reinvigorating the conservative store and became president in 1984. She left her post in 1989 to work for the floundering Italian fashion house Gucci, though she returned to her post as president in 1994.

Bergdorf Goodman's parent company became the object of takeover bids in the 1980s, and as a way to maintain its independence, Carter Hawley completed a major financial restructuring. In 1987, Bergdorf Goodman was spun-off, together with Neiman Marcus and Contempo Casuals to form Neiman Marcus Group. The new company was headquartered in Dallas, Texas, where the significantly larger Neiman Marcus had been based for 80 years.

Reaching the centennial (1990–present)

Chairman and CEO Ira Neimark expanded the women's store three times in the 1990s. He moved the men's store across the street to the former FAO Schwarz space at 745 Fifth Avenue in 1990. This move made it allowed more space available for women's fashions. In 1997, the former Goodman family apartment on the building's ninth floor became the John Barrett Salon and Susan Ciminelli Day Spa. In 1999, the Beauty Level opened directly below the main floor, offering a luxury spa and Goodman's Café, serving lunch and afternoon tea.[6]

In 2002, Bergdorf Goodman underwent a major renovation, during which artisans and craftspeople began a dramatic restoration of the main floor of the women's store. In 2003, the store introduced new boutiques for Gucci, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent. The Bergdorf Goodman Men's store features exclusive brands such as Loro Piana, Kiton, Brunello Cucinelli, John Lobb, Thom Browne, Bontoni, Tom Ford, and Charvet. Bergdorf's competition includes other high-end retailers such as Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and owner Neiman Marcus.

On May 2, 2005, two private equity firms, Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus, acquired the Neiman Marcus Group and its Bergdorf subsidiary, in a leveraged buyout (LBO).[7]

In popular culture

Bergdorf Goodman has found its way into a variety of movies and television shows over the years. In the 1953 movie, How to Marry a Millionaire, Lauren Bacall's character, Schatze Page, reprimands Betty Grable's character, Loco Dempsey, and says "Next thing you got to remember is the gentlemen you meet at the cold cuts counter may not be as attractive as the one you meet in the mink department at Bergdorf's." In the 1962 movie That Touch of Mink, Doris Day is feted by Cary Grant with a shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman, and the store is mentioned several times in the film. In the credits of the film, Bergdorf Goodman is thanked "for being Bergdorf Goodman".[8]

When filming North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock disliked the sketches the MGM design department created for Eva Marie Saint's costumes and instead purchased her entire wardrobe from Bergdorf Goodman.[9]

In the 1965 CBS television special My Name Is Barbra, Barbra Streisand's first television special. Streisand and her crew filmed one of their major sequences on location on the ground floor and the fur department of Bergdorf Goodman, She arrives in front of Bergdorf Goodman with a horse carriage then she vamps in exotic fur coats and specially designed hats by Halston to a medley of poverty songs, including "Second Hand Rose", "Give Me the Simple Life" and "Brother Can You Spare a Dime".[10] In the 1966 film Penelope, the main character, played by Natalie Wood, uses the proceeds of a bank robbery to purchase her disguise at Bergdorf's. In the 1970 film Airport, a woman entering the US from France is stopped by customs agents after failing to declare her purchases. "Look at the Bergdorf Goodman labels!" she replies, although they have obviously been altered. In a 1974 episode of Rhoda, Phyllis shows up late for her wedding, drawing everyone's attention. "Well," she exclaims, "apparently this dress is everything the woman at Bergdorf's said it would be!"

In the 1980 Sidney Lumet comedy Just Tell Me What You Want, Ali McGraw portrays the mistress of Alan King's character, Max. While attempting to end their affair, she encounters Max in Bergdorf Goodman and begins assaulting him with a large purse. When he tries to flee and she tackles him, toppling several display cases and chases him through the store. Their fight continues onto 58th Street where several patrons have followed and Max is finally rescued by his chauffeur who separates the two and drives him away.[11]

In the 1981 film Arthur, Dudley Moore is shopping for sweaters at Bergdorf's when he sees Linda (Liza Minnelli) shoplifting a tie.[12] In the 1986 Facts of Life episode "The Little Chill", Sue Ann Weaver returns to Peekskill, New York, now a highly-paid executive wearing "Just a little number I picked up at Bergdorf's". Her story is later revealed as false.

The store is referenced many times as a favorite shopping location of Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, and later Jenny Humphrey in the CW television series Gossip Girl.

Bergdorf Goodman was a favorite shopping spot for Sex And The City's main character, Carrie Bradshaw. It was featured in the opening to Sex and the City 2, with the girls meeting at the entrance of the store and buying wedding gifts there. On Boston Legal, Michael J. Fox's character tells Julie Bowen's character, "You know that coat you liked in the window of Bergdorf Goodman's? I'll buy you Bergdorf Goodman's." On the MTV series The City, Whitney Port's friend Samantha works as an assistant buyer at Bergdorf and there have also been scenes shot in the BG Restaurant. On the 11th episode of the third season of The Apprentice on NBC, a winning team was given a shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman. Bergdorf's also figures into the lyrics of Jay-Z's 2007 song, "30 Something", and one of the main characters of Plum Sykes' 2005 novel, Bergdorf Blondes, is a descendant of the store's founding family.

In the opening title sequence of That Girl, Marlo Thomas sees a mannequin of herself in a display window, designed by Halston, that was filmed at Bergdorf's and the window was designed by Halston.

The store has been the subject of two documentary films: the 2001 film Dita and the Family Business,[13] exploring the store from the point of view of its owners, and the 2013 feature documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, which features many testimonials from designers and celebrities.


  1. ^ Palmieri, Jean E. (13 March 2014). "Bruce Pask Takes Men's Fashion Post at Bergdorf Goodman".  
  2. ^ The New York Times Biographical Service 2. Arno Press. 1971. p. 3390.  
  3. ^ "Fight in Fifth Ave. Tailors' Strike" (PDF).  
  4. ^ Gray, Christopher (August 30, 1998). "The Bergdorf Goodman Building on Fifth Avenue; From Architectural Links to Common Ownership". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  5. ^ a b c Lambert, Bruce (April 5, 1993). "Andrew Goodman, 86, Bergdorf's Innovator, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  6. ^ Barmash, Isadore (August 18, 1988). "Bergdorf Weighs a Satellite Store". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  7. ^ "Neiman Marcus in $5.1B buyout".  
  8. ^ Ramudo, Susana (January 18, 2013). "Bergdorf Goodman Celebrates its 111 Anniversary". Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  9. ^ "Style in film: North by Northwest". May 15, 2012. Retrieved 2015-10-24. 
  10. ^ "My Name Is Barbra: Goofs".  
  11. ^ Kessler, Judy (March 31, 1980). "Alan King, That Fogey with a Stogie, Became a Movie Star at 52, Getting Punched Out by Ali (MacGraw)".  
  12. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 17, 1981). "Movie Review: Arthur (1981)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  13. ^ "Dita and the Family Business".  

External links

  • Bergdorf Goodman website
  • Bergdorf Goodman Windows Archive at
  • Bergdorf Goodman Company History. Funding Universe
  • Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's Documentary

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