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To commemorate its 111th anniversary and celebrate the notion of “one city, one store, one experience,” Bergdorf Goodman capped off a season of festivities—that included a documentary film, a book, and a collection of exclusive merchandise—with a grandiose gala at the Plaza hotel in New York on Thursday night. The affair, which invited some 450 guests like Michael Kors, Karolina Kurkova, Roberto Cavalli, and Prabal Gurung to “dress extraordinary,” was produced by Van Wyck & Van Wyck's brand experience division. The company's managing director, Lisa Wilson, and project manager, David Hawryluk, worked alongside Bergdorf's internal team of Mallory Andrews, Casey Rodgers, and Teril Turner.
“It was important to us that our celebration capture all the fun and excitement of a birthday party,” said Andrews, the retailer's senior vice president of marketing and public relations. “We wanted a night that would be sophisticated and glamorous yet at the same time unexpected and not too formal.”
Choosing the venue was relatively straightforward as both historical sites have sat next to each other for nearly 100 years, and the Goodman family hosted a 50th golden anniversary party for the store at the landmark hotel in 1951. In terms of the format, the idea of a formal sit-down dinner was nixed in favor of a fluid-feeling setup designed to encourage conversation, cocktail table hopping, and spontaneous revelry.
“There is only one Bergdorf Goodman in the world, and we wanted to mark our anniversary in a way that acknowledged the rich and fascinating heritage of the store while giving equal weight to our relevance and innovation in the present day through elements such as social media,” said Andrews. “We imagined our guests would have more fun dancing and having their photos taken inside a replica of a Bergdorf's window and sharing on Tumblr and other social media platforms rather than being stuck at a table in a more formal situation.”
Bergdorf Goodman allowed the members of the Van Wyck team to follow their imaginations on a fanciful path—with the store's signature purple as a starting point. The results, loosely inspired by the Gilded Age, included lavender-hued spun cotton clouds hung from overhead at varying heights—with hot air balloons floating amid them—and a menagerie of animals and mannequins. The latter, including albino peacocks, a white horse, and papier-mâché ostriches with real ostrich feathers, were supposed to look as though they had stepped straight from Bergdorf’s windows. The hotel’s white marble was complemented by traditional furnishings, while imported furniture, like a massive mirrored bar, doubled as a giant vanity. And while flowers were liberally used throughout, the organizers noted that the design was not flower driven.
For bites, a bevy of passed hors d’oeuvres like baby lamp chops, gruyere and stilton gougeres sprinkled with cayenne pepper, foie gras crostini, salmon sliders, and mini lobster rolls were served. Desserts came in the form of pumpkin bread pudding, pecan tarts, lavender macaroons, petit fours and miniature ice cream cones, and cotton candy.
Set up was completed in 15 hours and the strike took eight hours. To prepare for the event's most challenging aspect—the load in—the Van Wyck team brought in foliage a day early, allowing the group that had booked the space the night before to use it for its event.