Monday, March 17, 2014

The Allure of The Department Store

Photo via Pinterest via
Modeling Dior, 1962 / Photo Credit - Ormond Gigli

Scrolling through some vintage NYC pics lately, brought up one of an old department store letter missing and looking somewhat lost in this new world, I began to think about the department store experiences of my childhood.  Once that thought process was formed, I began to think how interesting it would be to hear from my fellow vintage sellers from all around the country (or worldwide, as the case may be), as to what their favorite stores were.

Department Store's can be a very regional thing.  You may pick up a vintage hat or dress with only the store label and if that store wasn't/isn't in your geographic area of knowledge, this series of posts may help to give you historical info, as well as a personal slant, as to what these stores were all about.

Saks Fifth Avenue, NYC
Photo via

My story begins as a 6 year old girl, shopping with her mother, to find a dress for a very important wedding that I was attending.  As we walked down the street of my suburban NYC town, my mother said, "Let's try here".  "Let's try here" was Sears.  I looked...then gazed across the street to the most beautiful store I had seen in my young life.  Pointing, I said, "Mommy I want to go there!!" 
"There" was Saks and a long history of caviar taste on a, not so caviar, budget would begin!  She bought me the dress from Saks and years of complaining would ensue, as the dress was for my father's second wedding!  From there, I grew to love Saks more. They were and are (along with Lord & Taylor) my "go to" spot when I'm looking for something special.  Their Christmas windows, to me, were magical and the feeling that you got when you walked in the store...well, it took your breath away.

The original "Saks & Co.", founded by Andrew Saks in 1867, was located on 34th St.  When Gimbels moved in across the street in 1923, Adam Gimbel purchased his rival and expanded the business to 5th Avenue, forming "Saks Fifth Avenue".  A partnership of Bernard Gimbel and Horace Saks.  The first expansion store was Palm Beach, FL.  Between 1926 and 1952 more expansion stores followed -  Southhampton, Chicago, Miami Beach, Beverly Hills, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and numerous resort towns.
Saks is currently owned by Hudson Bay Holdings (also the parent company of Lord & Taylor).

 Sophie Gimbel (wife of Saks President, Adam Gimbel) was the in house designer for Saks Fifth Avenue from the 1930's through the 1960's - see the NY Times article here for more info

and don't forget to visit
Vintage Saks Fifth Avenue Fashions on Ruby Lane

Thanks so much for reading!


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