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August 31 2014

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Introducing Betty Bergdorf

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Bergdorf Goodman has rolled out the red carpet to celebrate its 111th year, and commissioned a full-length documentary to toast the occasion. But this week’s New Yorker pays tribute to a Bergdorf landmark that’s lesser-known—unless you happen to be Patricia Field, Isaac Mizrahi, or the late Babe Paley. Betty Halbreich is the ur-personal shopper: The woman behind Betty Halbreich’s Solutions, headquartered at the store, is one of Bergdorf Goodman’s longest-standing employees (hired 1976, following a stint at Geoffrey Beene), and, to judge from Judith Thurman’s new profile, one of its saltiest. Halbreich pulls no punches in laying out the good, the bad, and the ill-fitting for her clients, which include all manner of society wives, celebrities (Meryl Streep, Liza Minnelli, and Mia Farrow have passed through her hands), and TV shows (Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, and just about every daytime soap). “My work is like lay therapy,” is the way she describes her vocation to the magazine. “You listen, you prescribe—clothes are a fix—and you hold up a mirror. Most people can’t see themselves.” In her corner office, the doctor is in.

Photo: Ruven Afandor / Courtesy of The New Yorker

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Dept. of Culture