The legendary Bergdorf Goodman saleswoman, who has worked for Manhattan’s luxury department stores for 47 years, spoke openly about her career in a new interview.
Betty Halbreich, 95, started at the iconic store as a sales associate in 1976 and jumped into Bergdorf Goodman’s personal shopping service for the rich and famous.
In her decades of work on the Fifth Avenue landmark, which she recounted in a 2015 bestselling book, she has seen fashion trends come and go, and customers change with them.
The manners have changed. People of all ages treat vendors terribly. It amazes me,” Halbreich told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday.
They throw things and leave or leave the dressing room stripping naked. I will not tolerate it. The only thing I have demanded is: leave me with my dignity.
Betty Halbreich, 95, started at Bergdorf Goodman as a sales associate in 1976 and launched the iconic store’s personal shopping service.
The exterior of the Bergdorf Goodman store during the 2014 Christmas window opening
Halbreich also noted that younger customers are increasingly drawn to the store, which previously catered primarily to older, wealthier customers.
‘When I started, it was a small, elite store. People were afraid to go in. Chauffeur-driven cars were allowed, but if you came by bike, forget it,” she said.
‘Lately, I have seen a huge increase in young people. It amazes me that they spend the prices that are demanded. They are buying two things: handbags and shoes. Yet somehow, they walk around in jeans and a tank top all day.
As she recounted her book I’ll drink for itHalbreich was already 40 years old when he began his career at Bergdorf Goodman, known to fans as BG.
She took the job after a tumultuous separation from a cheating, hard-drinking husband that led to a breakdown and attempted suicide.
“I grew up here and another person emerged,” he told the Journal of his career at the store.
She suggested the creation of a personal shopping service, for which she was chosen.
As Director of Solutions, her official title, Halbreich has served a host of celebrity clients, including Hollywood personalities, socialites and politicians.
Bergdorf Goodman is the favorite store of Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s beloved character on HBO’s Sex and the City.
Betty Halbreich, seen around 1950 wearing an authentic jaguar coat, was already in her 40s when she began her career at Bergdorf Goodman, known to fans as BG.
Halbreich has served as a personal shopper and stylist for a host of celebrity clients, including Hollywood personalities, socialites, and politicians.
In her memoirs, she describes how President Gerald Ford came to her to choose an altered dress for his wife, and she took it upon herself to show him how to wear it correctly.
It had just been pressed and finished. He took it and wrapped it over his arm like he was taking his shirts to the laundry,” she recalls.
“I said, ‘Oh, for God’s sake. She’s going to wear that dress tonight,'” she explains.
She said, “I can’t believe Betty is telling me how to wear a dress.” She said, “At least I’m not telling you how to run the country.”
The witty octogenarian goes on to say that Ford and his wife had “a wonderful love story.” She came out of that dressing room and showed him all her dresses. And her appreciation for her was written all over her face.
Much of Halbreich’s success stems from his ability to adapt with the times, though he can’t help but comment on how much the world of fashion has changed since his youth.
“We dress up, that’s what’s different,” he writes. You went to El Maroc on Saturday night and tipped the head waiter heavily to get a table. You didn’t think of going out without dressing.
Halbreich’s list of other famous former clients is dizzying, but includes Al Gore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts, Bobbi Brown, Estée Lauder, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli, and Meryl Streep.
Victoria Beckham poses with a Victoria Beckham Beauty display at Bergdorf Goodman in 2021
Founded in 1899 and settling permanently on glamorous Fifth Avenue in 1928, the New York City store sells designer clothing.
Andrew Goodman is seen in 1956. He ran the company after the death of his father Edwin Goodman.
For more than a century, Bergdorf Goodman has served the upper class of Midtown Manhattan.
Founded in 1899 and permanently installed on glamorous Fifth Avenue in 1928, the New York City store sells designer clothes from brands like Prada, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana.
It is the favorite store of Carrie Bradshaw, the beloved character of Sarah Jessica Parker in HBO’s Sex and the City.
The store was also the location where author E. Jean Carrol said Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room.
He denied it, but a civil jury awarded Carrol $5 million in damages after finding that Trump had sexually abused and defamed her, though he did not rape her.
Today, the store is a subsidiary of Neiman Marcus, owned by private equity firm Ares Management.