The legendary Bergdorf Goodman saleswoman who worked for the luxury Manhattan department store for 47 years opened up about her career in a new interview.
Betty Halbreich, 95, started at the iconic store as a sales associate in 1976 and launched Bergdorf Goodman’s personal shopping service for the rich and famous.
During her decades working at the Fifth Avenue landmark, which she chronicled in a 2015 best-selling book, she’s seen fashion trends come and go, and customers change with them.
‘Manners have changed. People of all ages treat salespeople terribly. It shocks me,’ Halbreich told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday.
‘They throw things around and leave or storm out of the dressing room. I will not tolerate it. I have only one demand: leave me with my dignity.’
Betty Halbreich, 95, started as a sales associate at Bergdorf Goodman in 1976 and launched the iconic store’s personal shopping service.
Halbreich also noticed that younger customers are increasingly attracted to stores that once catered primarily to older, wealthier customers.
‘When I started, it was a small, elite shop. People were afraid to come. Driven cars were allowed, but if you get on a bike, forget it,’ she said.
‘Lately, I have seen a huge upsurge in youth. It boggles my mind that they charge the prices that are claimed. They are buying two things: handbags and shoes. Yet they walk around in jeans and tanks all day.’
When he wrote his book I Drink to That, Halbreich was already in his 40s when he began his career at Bergdorf Goodman, known to fans as BG.
After an acrimonious separation from an unfaithful, heavy-drinking husband led her to a nervous breakdown and she attempted suicide.
‘I grew up here, and another person emerged,’ he told the Journal of his career at the shop.
He suggested creating a personal shopping service, which he was tapped to lead.
As director of solutions, his official title, Halbreich served a bevy of celebrity clients, including Hollywood personalities, socialites and politicians.
Bergdorf Goodman is Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite store, Sarah Jessica Parker’s favorite character on HBO’s Sex and the City.
Betty Halbreich, seen in an authentic Jaguar coat circa 1950, was already in her 40s when she began her career at Bergdorf Goodman, known to fans as BG.
Halbreich has worked as a personal shopper and stylist for celebrity clients, including Hollywood personalities, socialites and politicians.
In his memoirs, he describes how President Gerald Ford came to him to get an altered dress for his wife, and he took it himself to show him how to carry it properly.
‘It has just been pressed and finished. He took it and wrapped it in his arms like he was taking his shirts to the laundry,’ she recalls.
‘I said, “Oh, for God’s sake. She’s going to wear that dress tonight,”‘ she explains.
‘She said, “I can’t believe Betty is telling me how to carry the dress.” I said, “At least I’m not telling you how to run the country.”
The quick-witted Octobnarian said that Ford and his wife ‘had a wonderful love affair. He came out of that dressing room and showed her every outfit. And his admiration for her was written all over his face.’
Much of Halbreich’s success is due to her ability to adapt to the times – although she can’t help but comment on how much the fashion world has changed since her youth.
‘We’re dressed – that’s the difference,’ he wrote. ‘On Saturday night you went to El Morocco and tipped the head waiter heavily to get a table. You never thought of going out undressed.’
Halbreich’s list of other former celebrity clients is staggering but includes Al Gore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts, Bobby Brown, Estée Lauder, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli and Meryl Streep.
Victoria Beckham poses with the Victoria Beckham Beauty Show at Bergdorf Goodman 2021
The New York City store, which was founded in 1899 and permanently set up shop on glamorous Fifth Avenue in 1928, sold designer clothes.
Andrew Goodman is seen in 1956. He took over the company after the death of his father, Edwin Goodman
For more than a century, Bergdorf Goodman has served the upper crust of midtown Manhattan.
The New York City store, which was founded in 1899 and permanently set up shop on glamorous Fifth Avenue in 1928, sells designer clothing from brands such as Prada, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Lanvin, Dolce and Gabbana.
This is the favorite store of Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s beloved character on HBO’s Sex and the City.
The shop was also the place where writer E. Jean Carroll said Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room.
She denied this, but a civil jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages on the grounds that Trump sexually assaulted and defamed her, even though he did not rape her.
The store is currently a subsidiary of Neiman Marcus, owned by private equity firm Ares Management.
Read Full News Here