26 September 2023

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Writer-director: Matthew Miele, Entertainment One Hopscotch.

Here we get a glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous – the fashion designers, style icons and celebrities – as we get up-close and personal with how the other half lives through this documentary.

It chronicles the history of landmark Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman or ‘Bergdorf’s to its elegant clientele since 1899. The New York store

has long been a point of reference for chic and fantasy on screen from How to Marry a Millionaire to Sex and the City, and it is a global emblem for aspirational consumption.

Matthew Miele has made a department store of a documentary, stocked to the hilt with a profusion of interviews with such luminaries as Giorgio Armani, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Candace Bergen, the Olsen twins, Karl Lagerfeld, Jason Wu, Rachel Zoe, Isaac Mizrahi and Diane von Furstenberg. They paint a picture of Bergdorf’s as the ‘Mount Everest’ of retailers.

It also showcases some of the key employees that made Bergdorf’s so successful. These include buyer Linda Fargo, cited as being in the same realm of industry influence as Anna Wintour; the stylish, acerbic Betty Halbreich, the store’s top personal shopper with the chutzpah to tell customers when they look ‘more yuck than chic’ and senior director of visual presentation David Hoey. They demonstrate that a retailer is only as good as the talent it employs.

We also hear from some of the famous clients and supporters: Joan Rivers, Susan Lucci and Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field.

Despite being a fun viewing experience, it lacks the broad appeal of the best fashion documentaries of recent years. Also absent is a strong narrative or insight into the creative process that goes into Bergdorf’s exquisite merchandise.

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