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Saturday, 7th December 2019

“Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s”

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“I want my ashes scattered over Bergdorf’s.”

— Caption from a classic New Yorker cartoon by Victoria Roberts

“When I die, just scatter my ashes along the seventh floor of Bergdorf’s!” paraphrased Susan Lucci, star of ABC’s soap opera, All My Children. Lucci remarked, “Sounds like a pretty good idea!” after overhearing the conversation between tourist visiting the iconic fashion boutique.

When a man, I believe to be, the documentary’s Director says, “Y’know, that’s kinda the name of this film”, Lucci is aghast and amazed at the coincidence. With that emotional exclamation we are literally OFF to the races in this excitedly sweeping, stylish and sentimental documentary on Bergdorf-Goodman, written and directed by Matthew Miele.

Having recently re-located to Los Angeles from New York City where I was born and bred, I was prepared to be skeptical at another’s visual representation of “my city”, especially through the eclectic lens of fashion. I was incredibly pleased at how Miele managed to weave me into the world of Bergdorf Goodman, amidst the non-stop backdrop of New York City. The quick and cheeky editing added to the cadre of eclectic personalities exhibited by the featured designers, fashion celebrities and writers.

Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Marc Jacob and Oscar de la Renta, every major fashion icon of the 20th century (still breathing, stitching and sewing) were shown in this documentary with sprinkles of Hollywood here and there. “Murphy Brown” herself, Candice Bergen, talked about how from time to time, during the series’ run, designers and employees of the boutique would send over samples and suggestions to the Wardrobe Department for her character. Television shows like Gossip Girl and Sex & The City often dressed the main characters in Bergdorf designer threads and featured scenes on the very floors of B&G itself! Even Mary-Kate and Ashley (yep, the Olsen Twins from Full House!) were featured. They have their own clothing line displayed in B&G. Where have I been? Clearly not involved in fashion that’s where! But it didn’t matter, because the documentary does a slick job at racing us through the history, reputation and relevance that is Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion boutique. Influential designers no longer with us like Alexander McQueen set record attendance numbers when exhibited at museums. Take that medieval art!

From the “Shoe Salon”, a place with as much electricity as there are fabulous shoes, to one of the most experienced employees at dressing their select “clientele”, the documentary really covered the inside world of Bergdorf-Goodman without shying away from the “real” world outside. They reflected on the distinct loss of clientele in the wake of the Lehman Brothers and Bernie Madoff’s fall, without losing sight of how they’ve not only managed to rebuild those richy rolodexes but also managed to raise prices on key items.

Being a casual history buff, I was impressed at how the director reflected upon how influential designers from Bergdorf-Goodman dressed historical celebrity figures like Elizabeth Taylor and John Lennon, but also historical political figures then and now. From the ever-classy late Jackie Kennedy Onassis who wore a B&G designer’s hat the day of J.F.K.’s assassination to Jason Wu, whose dresses have been worn repeatedly by First Lady Michelle Obama during both the 2008 and 2012 inaugural galas.

Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s  is an all encompassing documentary that consistently reminds us that you will have to pay if you wanna play in that sort of rare expensive air. But, it’s also quick to say that it was and still is an example of aspiration of what some people see as an “American Dream”, a right of status, your “piece-of-the-pie” if you will. My wallet certainly couldn’t take the hit, but I couldn’t help but hope in the back of my mind that I would one day make enough coin to be able to buy something from B&G however small, just to gift to a loved one. Narratively framed within the journey that is the creations of the famous five display windows along their Fifth Avenue store, Miele has weaved a great “New York” documentary about the rich, famous, fashionistas, and iconic designers.

Distributor: eONE Films

Cast: Giorgio Armani, Candice Bergen, Manolo Blahnik, Dolce & Gabanna, Marc Jacobs, Naeem Khan, Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld, Lauren Bush Lauren, Susan Lucci, Christian Louboutin, Catherine Malandrino, Gilles Mendel, Isaac Mizrahi, Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen, Thakoon Panichgul, Joan Rivers and Jason Wu, among others.
Director: Matthew Miele
Running time: 93 minutes
Release Date: May 3, 2013

Greg Payton is a Writer, Director, Producer and Editor based in Los Angeles. Hailing from his hometown of New York City, he’s produced several short films, music videos and online webisodes. He is currently wrapping up his collaboration on a comedic webseries called Questing, while also post producing another webseries effort with Co-Writer and Director, Chris Chan Roberson, called, The Fastest. You can learn about The Fastest and Questing by checking his website out here: http://www.c3stories.com/ and here: http://www.youtube.com/user/QuestingSeries

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