Review: Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's


Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf'sDocumentary films often tell us the facts about a particular subject. They can be political or religious, or perhaps based on an idea that most people cannot wrap their minds around. But sometimes, you get lucky and see a film that lets you behind the scenes of something most people only dream about. That's how I felt about Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, opening Friday in Austin.

I may not know much about fashion, but having a fashion merchandising major/style guru for a sister, I had a little bit of knowledge under my belt -- certainly enough to appreciate a good movie about fashion. The trailer had enticed me, clearly riddled with various designers talking about how getting to show their line at the esteemed Bergdorf Goodman's was the highlight of their career. Writer/director Matthew Miele takes his viewers not only into the heart of the store, but to some areas that you would not have thought twice about -- for example, the elaborate window displays the store produces every few months.

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's spotlights some well-known names in fashion, such as Vera Wang, Michael Kors, and Dolce & Gabanna, giving us their opinion on the glory that is Bergdorf's (or "BG's," as some designers lovingly call it). Even though these designers are everywhere in retail, they all talk about how their one goal, the Academy Award of their career, was to be sold and showcased at Bergdorf's. The story then goes on to talk about the history of the store, as well as how fashion has evolved over the past century. A few new designers when the film was shot in 2011 are followed, and we as the audience get to sit in on a few meetings with them and Bergdorf's executives such as Linda Fargo, who is compared in status to the well-known Vogue editor, Anna Wintour.

In addition, cosmetics, shoe and purse designers also share their tales of getting into the store. Bobbi Brown talks about how she hoped that she could sell at least 100 tubes of lipstick her first month at Bergdorf's; she ended up selling over 100 tubes on her first day alone.

Perhaps the most shocking fact of Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's? How much a salesman (or woman) can make in a year of working at the store. It is definitely in the six-figure range, and is making me wonder why I chose film as a career over fashion.

You may wonder how just one store can be such a mecca for fashionistas all over the world. This film makes it clear that the store does not let their reputation or audience down, wanting just as much to please their customers with stellar service as having them walk out the door with a new $50,000 outfit. Reputable personal shoppers such as the well-known Betty Halbreich will give you their honest opinions, and would never let you out of the store until you felt 100 percent comfortable. If you are fortunate enough to afford some luxuries from the store, then the staff and team at Bergdorf's wants to do everything in their power to make your experience one-of-a-kind.

The audience's reaction to Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's was amazing and not anticipated. Never had I heard so many people, men and women alike, let out little gasps of entrancement as images of couture and beautiful shoes flashed on screen. People sympathized with these designers and their struggle to become seen, as did I. It reminded me how we all anxiously want our big break, that meeting or phone call that will catapult us to right where we want to be. It was just captivating to see in such a glamorous light.

As I left the theatre, I noticed something that I hadn't when I was sitting there in the dark: The majority of the audience members were wearing the most attractive outfits I've ever seen a movie audience wear. I couldn't tell if people were dressed up for the film or if these were simply their after-work clothes. Nonetheless, I left with a bit of a spring in my step at seeing a combination of both film and fashion lovers in one room.

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's made me realize that although lavish clothes and shoes are great, it is really the confidence that inspires the store's greatness. Every person in that store, from the designer to the janitors, have earned their place there. Sometimes, you don't need an expensive outfit in order to feel beautiful -- then again, a new pair of Louis Vuitton heels never hurt anyone.