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111 Years of Bergdorf Goodman

This year, Bergdorf Goodman is set to ring in its 111th birthday with parties, champagne and the debut of the documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's. Of course, when you're 111 years old, you build up quite a history. And over the past century, BG has played host to some of the world's most glamorous people, thrown some of the most elegant parties and offered the most luxurious retail therapy to people all over the world.

In honor of its birthday, we took a look back at the life and times of one of our favorite department stores. Click through for more.

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1901: A Humble Beginning

Before it became one of the world's most luxurious department stores, Bergdorf Goodman began as a tailor shop run by Herman Bergdorf and his business partner, Edwin Goodman. It wasn't on the Upper East Side, either, but much further downtown on 19th Street.


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1906: Movin' on Up (a Little)

In the first decades of the 20th century, New York's retail landscape was much different. Department stores and luxury shops could be found on Canal Street (what?) and on the famous "Ladies' Mile," which was located on the border between Chelsea and the Flatiron District. With larger plans for the future, Goodman bought Bergdorf out of the business.


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1914: Movin' on Up (a Little More)

With the business a success, Goodman decided that the pair should move even further uptown. Their next location stood in what is now Rockefeller Center. With his revolutionary introduction of ready-to-wear, BG would become a destination for avid shoppers from all over the world.


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1914: Ethel Frankau

Edwin Goodman hired a former teacher-turned-dressmaker. In time, Ethel Frankau would become the store's first Fashion Director, which is now one of the most coveted positions in the fashion industry (currently held by the similarly iconic Linda Fargo). The dress above is of her design.


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1928: Movin' on Up (For the Last Time)

Goodman finally ended his slow crawl uptown by settling in at the corner of 5th Avenue and 58th Street. The new store was built on the grounds of Cornelius Vanderbilt's menacingly large home and included a luxurious apartment for the Goodman family. He also leased out storefronts on the ground floor of the building to various companies—including Van Cleef & Arpels, which remains in that same location to this day.


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1951: Andrew Goodman

Edwin Goodman's son Andrew succeeded his father in 1951 and took control of the company in 1953. Having already attained a reputation for fine clothing and customer service, it was time for the company to expand beyond Edwin's legacy. While under his control, the company introduced "Miss Bergdorf," a line of clothing for young women, and expanded their square footage to 120,000.


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1959: Royal Stationery

Grace Kelly selected her wedding stationery and invites at Bergdorf Goodman for her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.


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1959: Hats Off—No, Hats On

In the continued expansion of the brand, BG brought on Roy Halston Frowick as head milliner to provide hats for the well-dressed women of the time. Eventually, Frowick would leave Bergdorf Goodman to found his iconic design house, Halston.


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1961: Inaugural Collab

Diana Vreeland, then editor-in-chief of Vogue, joined forces with BG Fashion Director Ethel Frankau to design Mrs. Kennedy's attire for the Inaugural Balls.


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1969: Invasion of Barbra Streisand

CBS aired a special focusing on Barbra Streisand called My Name is Barbra. As part of the show, Barbra sang and danced her way through the store's main floor. To celebrate, Nena and Edwin Goodman hosted a dinner for Barbra in their home above the store.


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1969: The Shoe Salon Is Born

You'll find all walks of women in Bergdorf's shoe salon, located on the second floor of the store—and it's been that way since it first opened in 1969.


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1969: The Famous BG Chandelier

When entering BG, you're often greeted by one of New York City's most elegant lighting fixtures, a welcome change from the many dimly-lit studio apartments in town. This specific specimen was the subject of a year-long search by Andrew Goodman. He found it after learning that a BG employee had one in the family. He bought it immediately and it has hung gracefully in the store ever since.


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1972: Goodman Family Exit

The business originally started by Mr. Bergdorf in 1899 was sold by Mr. Goodman to Carter Hawley Hale Stores for the sum of $12.5 million. Three years earlier, the company had also acquired Neiman Marcus. Efforts were made to expand the national footprint of the brand, which ultimately did not succeed.


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1981: The Beginnings of an Empire

Michael Kors, now a household name and a powerhouse in the fashion industry, debuted his first collection in the halls of BG. Since then, any fashion-conscious woman could visit 5th and 58th to find the best in jet-set American style.


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1983: Movin' on Up (Last Time, Promise)

Answering the hopes and dreams of well-heeled women across Manhattan, BG installs escalators. In true BG style, the store celebrated its newest additions with a party. Today, they remain some of the best-lit escalators in town and their mirrored walls always reflect you in the most flattering way.


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1985: Click, Click, Click, Flash

The New York City art scene was alive and booming in the 1980s—and to keep up with the changing culture, BG teamed up with various photographers and artists to shoot its ad campaign.  The result? Artistic creations from the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Dianne Blell and Dean Chamberlain.


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1990: The Men's Store

To keep up with demand, BG Chairman Ira Neimark expanded the store to its current size. This growth included a brand new men's store across the street and additional space in the main building.


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1991: Bobbi Brown

Cosmetics and beauty mogul Bobbi Brown launched her now world-famous collection with 10 lipsticks exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman.


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1999: Gawking Tradition

Tourists from across the globe gawk at BG's holiday windows year after year. They're officially a New York tradition and always a must-see.


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1999: Basement Beauty

The BG expansion continued with the ribbon-cutting of a beauty floor located just below the store's main level. For many, it becomes a one-stop shop for their daily beauty routine.


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1999: BG in Print

BG launches a quarterly magazine featuring the best from the store's inventory, all styled into high-gloss editorials.


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2004: BG.COM

In addition to hundreds of retailers around the world, Bergdorf Goodman joins the e-commerce boom. For the first time in history, shoppers could peruse the covetable merchandise without having to travel to BG's flagship in New York City.



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2006: 5F Is Born

Fashion girls around the world rejoiced as BG debuted its contemporary floor, 5F. Located on the fifth floor of the main store, it carries the likes of Rag & Bone, DVF, J Brand and Helmut Lang, among many other labels.



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2010: 5th & 58th

To accompany its already booming store, website and magazine, BG launches the 5th/58th blog featuring interviews with designers, behind-the-scenes coverage and updates from every single department of the store. Be careful—you can lose hours of your life once you log on.


Images courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman and the New York Public Library Digital Archive

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