Linda Fargo, Senior Vice President, Women’s Fashion Director and Store Presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, has perhaps one of the most envied jobs in all of fashiondom: She gets to play all day at Bergdorfs. Fargo oversees the store design, the displays, and, most importantly, the fashion. And she manages to do all this with style and the proverbial grace. Of course, her sense of style has a hard downtown edge that even the skinniest hipster would covet. And we won’t lie—we get giddy every time she stops to talk to us at parties. So now it’s time to share that giddiness with you.
How do you decide what to buy for the store?
Sometimes I try to envision which of our clients the product would be perfect for. Can I see her in it? Where is she going in it? In terms of which new designers to pick up, sometimes you know it as sure as you are of your name, and other times, we collectively get an inkling that there’s something there, and we wait, and watch it evolve for a few seasons. Product has to create lust.
Is what you choose for the store very different from what’s in your own closet?
You have to be careful not to shop only with yourself in mind. That’s called professional distance. On the other hand, the product has to pass a very personal litmus test too.
Your style is very bold. You wear bright colors, dog collars, amazing accessories. Have you always dressed like this? Where do you get your inspiration?
I think I’ve built up to it. You know people grow into themselves. I find myself attracted to objects and things, and people for that matter, who have a lot of presence. I’m not drawn to neither-here-nor-there attributes. I never know from day to day what or who is going to inspire me; I just try to keep my eyes and my mind open. I feed on spontaneity and believe that accident is a great collaborator.
Do you ever get inspired from the street?
Always! The “street” is a very rich source. I can credit the gutter with some of many favorite window designs, ranging from skeletal, blown-out and abandoned umbrellas post-downpour, to the haunting beauty of the way a woman looks in the same downpour if she’s caught without an umbrella and her mascara is running in inky streams. Thank goodness for phone cameras too, as I routinely snap architectural details, addresses of cool stores, and people wearing something I want to hunt down.
You’ve worked on Bergdorf’s window displays before. What’s been your favorite one to do?
The holiday year-end extravagnazas made me and the staff crazy for months, trying to re-invent an old theme, especially with the performance pressure of knowing that thousands of people were going to come to judge them. But when they were finished and we were madly exhausted, they would become my favorites instead of my nemisis. They had to be conquered, so I guess they leave the most lasting impression of affection.
What style advice do you have for those of us without a great discount at Bergdorfs?
As they say, not only does money not buy you happiness — it can’t buy you that thing called “style,” either. Style requires confidence, the ability to not look back in the mirror, an ability to judge what suits who you are, and the vision to believe that beauty can be found anywhere. I know women who always look unique and have somehow developed a signature without visibly overspending.
That eclecticism is probably what I love the most about Bergdorf’s! That you can find the most delicious luxury products like Chado and Verdura and Louboutin and then, when you’re in another mood, you can discover very edgy modernist pieces from Junya Watanabe, Rodarte, and Martin Margiela. Our lives require range. None of us live a one-note life. Not only is our store environment an intentional blend of eras, but our clients and salesforce are very diverse too. It’s very real.
What was the first designer item you bought?
That depends on how far you look back. I can remeber when getting a pair of Levis felt like a “designer” purchase. But the first real, true designer piece was an Azzedine Alaïa skirt suit. I still have it! I spent way beyond reason for it. And it made me feel fabulous.
What accessory do you have your eye on right now?
Probably a rather large, subversive, black-rhinestone necklace from Tom Binns. He’s one of our newest and most exciting additions to our designer stable.
What’s really selling for spring? What are the big trends that you’re seeing?
Color, long flowing dresses, gladiator sandals… Basically anything boho-luxe.
What trends do you personally love for the season?
All the color! Florals! And abstract art-prints are my favorites. Our customers are voting yes, too. It’s a very “happy” trend season.
What trends do you wish would go away?
The same ones I always disdain. Anything that’s too tarty and vulgar, like navel-baring spaghetti strap summer tanks and dresses which make women look like baby dolls. And, with the exception of for the express purpose of a photoshoot, those 7-inch ankle-breaking platform shoes that don’t even function. I always wonder how many girls have had to be hospitalized after falling off those. One day we’ll all look back at this moment in fashion and remark on how unflattering and ridiculous those shoes were.
What fashion objects are you lusting after right now?
I already have my eye on fall runway inspiration, so I’m twitching for more great costume jewelry: big, strong, eccentric.
Where do you shop?
Where do you think? Bergdorf’s! Can you imagine how hard it is to work there? Everytime I walk through the store on the tiniest mission, I fall in love with something else I can’t seem to live without. They might as well keep my paycheck.
What designers do you love?
Right now, I’m in line behind many other fans in my adoration and affection for Alber Elbaz. Not only is he a love bug, but what I’m crazy about is how ultimately chic and, at the same time, wearable his clothes are. I can’t imagine any woman not looking and feeling effortless, beautiful, and completely, timelessly modern in his clothes.
What designers and labels do you actually wear the most?
I’m the ultimate eclecticist — and besides, in my job, I steer clear of answering questions like this.
What staple item should every woman have in her closet?
I retreat back to beautifully made and shaped basics to which you can add your personality. I hate to say it, but it’s perfect little black dresses, a versatile chic black evening shoe, a great shaped black coat, clean and sharp black boots in various heel heights. After that you start to add your jewelry, bags and so on. But that’s for me. There are some women who would suffocate if black was their starting point.
What can’t you live without?
Laughing! In terms of what’s essential for keeping me feeling presentable, I would have to say black mascara and the perfect pair of black boots.