Friday, April 18, 2014

Confessions of a former Bergdorf Goodman Personal Shopper.

Stacey Fenster, in a Gap bodysuit Forever 21 top, Kiwi Tucker skirt, DKNY heels 
and Philip Lim for Target  bag.

Credstyle takes a Look Behind the Dressing Room Curtain:
Confessions of a Former Bergdorf Goodman Personal Shopper.

She's a New Yorker who now lives in Chicago and works as an advertising creative 
recruiter for a major International ad agency. Former Bergdorf Goodman personal 
shopper and NYC ad agency account manager, Stacey Fenster lets us in on her life 
as a personal shopper for the rich and famous and a peek into the lives of the other 1%.

First, how did you land such a sweet gig?
I worked for The Arnell Group for Peter Arnell as an account manager on fashion 
accounts such as Tommy Hilfiger and Marui department stores in Japan (very edgy 
clothing dept. stores) which led to a job (through a friend) as a personal shopper 
at Bergdorf Goodman.

So it sounds like you had some fashionista in your blood? 
I have early memories of my grandmother wearing her mink coat with her embroidered 
initials in it. I remember going to Bloomingdales and Saks with my mother on 
Saturday mornings to shop and eat at 40 Carrots (the restaurant in Bloomingdales).

It sounds so glamorous! What does a personal shopper actually do? 
A woman would call for instance and say I want a black dress. I would go through the 
store and pull every black dress in her size and style. She would either come in and 
try on the dresses in a private area of the store or I would bring them to her home 
or hotel room to try on.

Is there a personal shopping boot-camp to get up to speed for the experience? 
No. I hit the ground running. One day a random woman came in and spent $100,000 
in 3 hours on clothing. Another bought an 8 thousand dollar dress sight unseen over 
the phone. And she kept it.

Bergdorf’s is a pretty toney store…we’re guessing you shopped for some 
well-heeled clients?
It was the most interesting job I've ever had. I also met my best friend there.
The average client spent $30,000.00 each time they shopped. Some came once 
a season, others came once a month.

I've shopped for Aretha Franklin, Marissa Tomei, and Jimmy Buffet's wife, Jane, 
Roberta Meyers, editor in chief for Elle Mag. and Nadja Swarovski of Swarovski jewels, 
Dany Johnson-"The Rock" Dwayne Johnson's wife…to name a few.

What kind of cash would your shoppers drop? 
One woman spent $2 million a year at Bergdorf, and that didn't include what she
spent at Hermès and Saks. Her second year she spent $1 million.

A few words to describe your typical client? 
Tons of plastic surgery, Birkin bags, diamonds and Am Ex black credit cards with 
no spending limits!

It must be wild to be surrounded by clients with such serious bank. Any Berdorf 
savings for working there? 
30 % plus add it to the sale prices …

Nice. What are your most treasured Bergdorf purchases? 
Burberry skirt, Open-toe Lizard Jimmy Choo shoes, Theory denim jacket with 
detachable fur vest, Manolo Blahnik heels in many styles.
You must have some juicy stories. Give us the dish…
One client in Japan sent sketches/drawings of the Chanel outfits she wanted.

Got an "emergency call" from one woman in Puerto Rico just to say she was sitting 
next to Donatella Versace. (that was all she wanted…she had to tell someone.)

A Wall Street Trader closed down "Le Cirque" restaurant one night and flew in 
10-15 foreign escorts (that couldn't speak english) and I had to dress them for the 
event in Bagley Mischka, Fendi baguettes, and Manolo's….he's now in jail!

One woman screamed at me over the phone complaining that it was unacceptable 
that I sent her purchase Fedex instead of UPS! There's a $10 difference between the two.

Many would have me ship purchases to another state to avoid NY sales tax.

Most popular designer purchases were Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Loro Piana, Armani suits,
and Tom Ford for YSL before he was at Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana.

Enough about the store, let’s hear more about you. Your go-to designers? 
Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens, Chanel, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, 
Alaia, and Vintage Betsy Johnson. I love lingerie especially from Agent Provocateur. 
The store on Oak Street has the best salesgirls and always knows the styles I like.

By the way, you look fabulous today, Stacey. Describe your go-to look. 
Fashion edgy with a sense of humor. NYC Downtown combined with girly lace or silk 
tops. "High/Low" Mix- high end designer with low style fun like Target and H&M 
designer styles.

Credstyle loves NYC. Got any good stories? 
I worked only one day for a famous lingerie store where supers models would shop 
called Le Petite Coquette in the Village. My only interview question she asked was 
"What's your sign?"

I was shopping at the Gap and my friend texted me to go to the other side of the 
store where she was because Super model Helena Christensen was shopping there. 
I went up to her and asked her advice on an item and she was very sweet with her answer.

I got into a fight with a woman at Target over this Philip Lim for Target limited edition 
bag…Of course, I won! A girl there didn't get any limited edition bags so I gave her one 
of mine since I already had two.

Any good celebrity spottings you care to share with credstyle?
Saw Paul McCartney, Natalie Cole (in her bad girl drug phase), Monika Lewinsky, 
Andre Leon Talley and Brooke Astor in the store.

Passed Valentino on Madison Avenue and I stopped him to fuss over how much I loved 
his clothes! Of course he was very tan.

Met Stella McCartney when she worked for Chloe. And Manolo Blahnik, Calvin Klein, 
Michael Kors when they did trunk shows at the store. Plus Manolo signed my black 
pumps by him.

Met Tommy Hilfiger when Peter Arnell worked with his brand. They also had 
George Magazine as a client and she saw JFK Jr just sitting in the office one day 
and found it very hard not to stare at him.

I love tennis and saw Anna Wintour at the US Open every year I went.

Stacey, you’re clearly a fashion pro. Can you give our readers some personal 
Fenster Fashion Advice. 
We all have a first day at a new job outfit. Why not 
have an "I quit outfit too?" Every day is a chance to express yourself through 
clothes- have fun with it! (Midwest seems to play it too safe/conservative.)

Any places in Chicago you adore, want to plug or give a shout out to? 
Would love to work for Ikram Goldman at Ikram. Love RSVP Gallery in Bucktown, 
Blake in River North, Designer, Calvin Tran in Lincoln Park. I like to shop at 
places where they have emerging designers that you can't find at department 
stores. Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Saks have done a great job 
redesigning their stores to help provide a modern luxury shopping experience.

Thanks, Stacey. This has been a lot of fun. All this talk about fashion has 
got credstyle itching to do some damage and shop. Shall we?

Stacey's Bergdorf favorites. (Top left) Jean Paul Gaultier top. vintage Betsy Johnson
dress, Chanel bag, Burberry skirt, Theory Denim jacket with detachable fur vest and 
Jimmy Choo Lizard heels.

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