In the Office with Linda Fargo
by r. couri hay
Linda Fargo wearing vintage Emanuel Ungaro from Bergdorf’s new Coquette Atelier
In a city of style mavens, Linda Fargo holds an enviably influential spot. As the style guru for Bergdorf Goodman, she is one of the city’s supreme tastemakers, the arbiter of hip luxury taste for Gotham’s A-listers, one percenters, and fashionistas. Under her direction, Bergdorf Goodman’s windows have become both cult art and theater, influencing design worldwide. She is having a particularly busy year, helping to prepare both a book and a documentary about Bergdorf’s to commemorate its 111th anniversary, a renovation of the men’s floor, new shops including Tom Ford for women and Chanel, and a new vintage collection, Coquette Atelier.
Having worked her way up the corporate ladder, Fargo, whose official title is senior vice president of the fashion office and store presentation, is today as synonymous with Bergdorf Goodman as those unmistakable holiday windows. Designer Nancy Gonzalez named a handbag after her, and last Christmas Bergdorf’s sold out of mini Linda ornaments that featured the signature Edward Tricomi-coiffed hair, leopard boots, and fur hat of their namesake. “Even when I’m out in public, I always feel like an ambassador for the brand,” says Fargo, adding with a laugh, “The highlight of my career is being made into an ornament.”
Over her tenure at the retailer, Fargo has created more than 1,000 window displays for Bergdorf’s, many of which have appeared in her two books on the subject, Dreams: Through the Glass and Windows at Bergdorf Goodman (both from Assouline). “I started out taking a lot of risks with the image of Bergdorf’s through the windows,” says Fargo. “Doing windows that were not just precious, brittle prettiness, but gutsier—a girl lying on a bed of nails or a girl at a tawdry sideshow, and she’d literally be crying, and all of her mascara would be running beautifully down her face—I don’t think that was happening before.”
Recently Fargo applied her renowned taste to a more personal project: a new office. “I have developed a design ethos—an eclectic mix of vintage and new, heritage and modern—for the store that is actually quite personal to me, but I think works here too,” she says of the office, which includes reupholstered zebra chairs, inherited from another executive at the store, and a 1960s teak Knoll Partners desk that once inhabited the Newsweek news room and is now lacquered in black.
While her job and its environs may be glitzy, Fargo is quick to point out that her roots were decidedly less glamorous. “I arrived here from Wisconsin very unceremoniously,” Fargo remembers. “The girl who was driving me had no room in her car; I held her bird in a box on my lap. Her dog was drooling over my shoulder. I still remember coming across that 59th Street Bridge, all my clothes in little bags that we stuffed into nooks and crannies in the car.”
Considering her contributions to Bergdorf’s, the nearly 1,000-mile trip was worth it—and then some. “I feel that I was very much a part of helping make Bergdorf’s everything that it can be,” she says. “Just knowing that I polished this jewel— I feel great about that.” Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave., 212-753-7300
Photography by Sari goodfriend
Cover shoot: May/June 2014 issue of Gotham magazine.