‘Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’: But not my money

May 6, 2013

Fashion entered my life in junior high school, when it suddenly became imperative that I own a Gant dress shirt, the kind with a loop on the back. These were deemed the ne plus ultra of cool – and the only place you could buy them was the Northbriar Shop of the now-defunct Dayton’s department store, at least in my hometown of Minneapolis. But, in 1963, spending $14 for a shirt seemed extravagant and profligate (at least to my parents).

Since then, I’ve decided that fashion is both silly and pointless. Fashion Week? I wouldn’t get within a mile of it – and the photos I see make me think that Hans Christian Andersen would be pocketing crazy cash from the annual parade of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at those self-important tents in Bryant Park or behind Lincoln Center.

So I’m obviously not the target demographic for Matthew Miele’s documentary, “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s.” Still, I’ve watched documentaries about topics in which I had no interest – including one about the guy who won the first season of “Project Runway” – and if the movie is well-enough made, I’ll hang in there.

But “Bergdorf’s” isn’t that movie. Instead, it’s like a vanity project for – well, who, exactly? All of the people who shopped at Bergdorf-Goodman in the store’s heyday, before it was sold to Neiman-Marcus? That’s hard to say – but it certainly challenged me to keep my eyes open, even for its short running time.

Aside from proclaiming its preeminence as “the” place to have your clothes shown if you’re a designer, and its famously chummy treatment of its customers, well, what do we learn from this film? That everyone who shopped there thought it was just fabulous? I’ll have to take their word for it, I guess, because I’ve never actually set foot in the place.

Nor am I likely to. I could barely sit through the whole film; I can’t imagine wandering the aisles of this puffed-up emporium.

I’d rather watch a movie about Target. At least the talking heads might not seem so self-satisfied and convinced of their own importance, simply because of their relationship to this particular store.

Even if you’re a longtime customer, I have to assume this thin hagiography would leave you dissatisfied. “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s”? As the saying goes, I wouldn’t walk across the street to do so.

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