by Elizabeth Gariti
When I used to visit New York City, before I lived here, I felt that if the only thing I did was spend the day at Bloomingdales, it would be a visit well-spent.
Now that I live here, I finally decided to try it. I was excited. A full day of unencumbered, guilt-free shopping. Where would it lead? Who would I see? What would I buy?
I began my day as a lady of luxury with a cup of tea and bagel at David Burke at Bloomingdales, a place for eager shoppers to cool their heels before the store’s 10am opening. However, the really eager shoppers were waiting impatiently at each of the store’s eight doors, including the subway entrance.
Ok. Time to go. As I got off the escalator to the first floor, I was assailed by the classic, black-and-white tiled floor and about ten perfume demonstrators hawking their wares. Oooh, maybe I’d do a make-over later, but this was too much scent early in the morning. Seeking respite, I escaped to the newly expanded Visitors’ Center on the Balcony.
It was there I spoke with Sophia who told me that the 59th St. store has the largest visitor center of all Bloomingdale’s stores and that the only other NYC store with a visitors’ center is Macy’s, but theirs is not as nice. The Bloomies Visitors’ Center serves customers primarily from out-of-state or out of the country to give tax-back benefits. Also, if a visitor spends over $100, she can bring her receipt to the Visitors’ Center to get a free gift, either a black Bloomies tote bag or keychain – it varies. Usually, by the end of the day, the comfortable brown velour sofas and shimmering bronze tub chairs are filled with men waiting for the women to be finished shopping. At this, I looked around for football playing on the wide-screened TV but guessed that probably wouldn’t fit the décor.
Now, I was truly prepared to begin the plunge. Up the escalator I went to Level 2 – ah, Juniors. . .What struck me when I was younger and is still true today is the colorful playground of opulent, but affordable, choices. Intermixed with jeans, jeans and more jeans are section upon section, row upon row of mod, tweed-and-velvet pied-piper jackets, gold lame and lace camisoles to go under the jackets, bright colors and an array of fruity, juicy prints in a variety of tones embossed on a variety of textures. I combed the whole floor in a phantasia of possibilities.
Level 3: Dresses! Visiting Bloomingdale’s Dress Department is akin to visiting a sculpture garden. There is an abundance of three-dimensionality with dresses of every size, shape, structure, and era, intermingling tweeds, tapestries, brocade and crinoline with beads, embroidery, and ribbons, some complete with petticoats and layers, some shapeless and sleek. From Flapper to Flamenco, there is something for everyone here who wants it.
On Level 4, the aura becomes a bit more well-heeled and sophisticated. Here with the fur salon, the women’s personal shopping service and the high-end designer boutiques, one gets the feeling that this is where the real shopping begins. The atmosphere is a bit hushed, the inventory is less and the floor space more, providing additional square-feet per inch of cloth. I walked around respectfully, nodding at discreet salespeople, touching fur and tracing beautifully molded pieces of fabric.
By now, I was starting to feel a bit hazed from taking in so much, but like the true gatherer of my biological destiny, I trudged on.
Level 5 – Furniture and Lingerie. I questioned the logic of this, until I saw the proximity of the beds to the negligees. Having had enough of clothing for the moment, I turned to the furniture where I walked through warrens of mock rooms crammed with every conceivable style of furniture wondering, “Who buys furniture at Bloomingdale’s? Do many come here to do so?” I discovered that Bloomingdale’s is famous for their furniture store and all their wares are exclusively designed for Bloomingdale’s. As the flagship store, the 59th St. store has the largest display of furniture, beds and hand-made rugs of any of the other Bloomingdale’s.
The 6th Level is Home of the Registry, with pots, pans, crystal and every conceivable gadget known to man. It was an exhibit of the finest the human imagination can offer (as is all of Bloomingdale’s) with hand-blown glass, intricately cut crystal and lustrous brocades, all to be gazed at with the wafting fragrance of Martine’s Chocolates in the background. (I also peeked into Le Train Bleu, Bloomingdale’s premiere restaurant modeled after the luxury of the Orient Express.)
7th Level – Bed, Bath and, and a brightly lit staircase leading upward: BKids, a whole ‘nother world. I definitely needed a break.
I stopped at the Showtime Café to fortify. It’s a genuine cafeteria with sandwiches, hot foods, soups, coffee and salads. I felt a little like I was transported back to the ‘50’s sitting there eating my turkey sandwich and carrot-ginger soup.
Thus fortified, I ascended to BKids and breathed a happy sigh. It’s split-leveled between Levels 8 & 9 with a staircase leading from the girls’ to the boys’ sections. It resembles a very posh, well-decorated treehouse, only with a sailboat suspended from the ceiling. (Go figure.) And, here the bright colors are back with lots of pink and green and a lavender elevator bank. I could stay here for a while, even though I can’t really wear anything.
After breezing through the Men’s Store and the Shop for Women on the Lower and Metro Levels, I’d done it – I’d gone through all the floors of Bloomingdales. It was time for my makeover.
Which to choose, which to choose? I strolled past Chanel, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Prescriptives. . . finally a make-up artist from Shiseido grabbed me. The makeover was uneventful, but I did walk away with some lovely green eyeshadow and new lipstick for Spring. Mmmmm. . .
Newly mascara-ed and doused in perfume, I happily made my way to the subway, picturing the joy my new purchases would bring. Shopping is ultimately about fantasy, and Bloomingdale’s serves it up particularly well. No trip to New York is complete without a stop there. In fact, if you let it, it could easily consume your whole visit!