August 20 2014

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1 posts tagged "David Hoey"

“How Do You Show Handbags?”


Every merchandiser in the world is confronted with the same quasi-existential question. In the words of Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman’s SVP of women’s fashion and store presentation: “We’re always like, ‘How do you show handbags?’ “

If you’re Fargo and her visuals deputy, David Hoey, BG’s senior director of visual presentation, you construct a Dalí-esque woman with a nine-foot arm and load her down with a closet’s worth of bags. Or put a sparkling evening bag on the arm of a prehistoric dinosaur. Or bisect a Bottega Veneta-clad mannequin, in trippy, M.C. Escher style, with a pile of intrecciato purses. Or any of the many eye-popping ways Fargo and Hoey have dreamed up for their Fifth Avenue windows over the decade-plus that they’ve been working together. They’ve helped make Bergdorf’s windows some of the best in the business, and in tribute, Assouline is publishing an enormous tome—less coffee-table book than coffee table—chronicling the best of their efforts, with appreciative commentary from the likes of Alber Elbaz, George Lois, Bette Midler, and Lynn Yaeger. On the occasion of the new book, available this January, and the unveiling of their latest holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman, spoke with the duo about the good, the great, and the overstuffed in the art of fine window dressing. The proof of success? “Definitely people come in and are so inspired, they’ll have to buy a gown,” Fargo says with a laugh. “Sometimes it’s a little bit tricky for us, because we’ll have something very embedded in the window. We try to get them to wait until the window comes out.” A condensed and edited version of our chat is below, with a few of our favorite windows from days gone by.

OK, to start with, the unavoidable question: Which is your favorite window that you’ve done?
Linda Fargo: Don’t even ask me about a favorite. I knew you were going to say that. We produce about 300 to 350 designs a year. You can only imagine how many images there are…it’s a bit of playing Sophie’s Choice.

Really honestly, I don’t have favorites. Each one has a production story, each one has an aha moment that you recall. They each have some anecdote about them which endears them to you. I have a little bit of a favorite in there—it’s the foldout [in the book], the kind of Salvador Dalí figure with the ultra-long arm. That was one that David [Hoey] designed. We have a certain type of window which is extra-wide, versus our Fifth Avenue windows, which are extra-tall. And I think it was this ingenious use of the space—to come up with this woman with this eight-foot, nine-foot-long arm, resting like Salvador Dalí and that little cane, a crutch really, at the end of the arm. We were invited by the Cooper-Hewitt to put that in their design triennial, so David completely reinstalled that at the Cooper-Hewitt. So that one, I’m very fond of. [But] there’s really so many.

David Hoey: We tend to play with extremes. We deliberately overstuff the window…there are several examples in the book, the page of the book can barely contain even the sheer quantity of stuff. I’ll collect things in certain categories, and turn a window out of it. And we don’t quit when we’re ahead—we keep going. My favorite windows are the extreme ones, either unbelievably overstuffed, or it’s one where you hardly do anything, but it’s startling nevertheless.

David, you have a great line in the book: “What we avoid is mediumism.”
DH: Steer clear of the middle. Also, don’t even out your budgets. Do extravaganzas and then do something very simple. The whole point of everything is surprise. We’re sort of in the surprise business. If you’re gonna get somebody’s attention you can’t be beige-y. Continue Reading ““How Do You Show Handbags?”” »