Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's

Matthew Miele's documentary "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" is a catty and chatty tease for the eyes. At its best, it is zippy and visually glib although at times it suffers from a short attention span. While its true we only get slivers of Bergdorf Goodman's illustrious history here, the anecdotes are amusing and sarcastic, although you may want a bit more story to go with your sequins.

It is well established at the outset that Bergdorf is The Emerald City and Shangri-La for many of the celeb and designer set from directorMartin Scorsese to Jackie-O, Yoko Ono, Christian Dior and virtually everyone on an A and B list of fashion, cinema and television.

Bergdorf's is housed in The Vanderbilt Mansion right on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The store has expanded into several buildings and after a two million dollar renovation in 1967, it occupied 120,000 square feet. In 1990 the store expanded again to include salon stores of many inimitable designers.

The film mentions The Goodman Family and we hear intriguingly of Mr. Goodman going to the main floor in his bathrobe and slippers from his penthouse apartment above the store, but aside from this, there is virtually little historical information presented about the actual store. What kind of people were Bergdorf and Goodman? How do the majority of the clients feel and what is it like to actually work in the store. There are only silver shavings offered as answers to these questions. We see one client but we do not know about how he really feels about the legendary store.

What we do get are lots of famous designers, a virtual Addams Family feast of them, the quirky and kooky. There is Karl Lagerfeld in his big sunglasses and black gloves, Vera Wang, boy wonder Jason Wu and the ever-present Isaac Mizrahi in addition to Stefano Gabbana, Domenico Dolce and the striking Alber Elbaz among countless others, even Nicole Ritchie.

We are introduced to the buzzing Linda Fargo for a considerable amount of time who is known to be approachable smiling in contrast to Anna Wintour.  Fargo, who handles the fashion houses in Bergdorf's, can make or break careers too. Then we are taken to a tour of the inventory warehouses and workshops where they create virtuosic window displays which are nothing less than still movies with a complete bestiary made from paper.

All elements of the film move well with pulse and glitter. We see John Lennon in a fur coat looking like a sheepish owl. And there is Jacqueline Kennedy in a Halston hat. And Christian Louboutin chatters about high heels.

"Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" is a Candace Bushnellian bubbling look at those who go berserk at Bergdorf's, but the hallowed halls themselves seem as much a fanciful figment as Wayne Manor in Gotham City.

Perhaps the most intriguing concept of the film is that of unbridled desire---the inexhaustible wish of  wanting to be seen shopping at Bergdorf's and not only once but multiple times.

Write Ian at redtv_2005@yahoo.com

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