Will director Matthew Miele's fashion insider documentary, "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's," lure the average movie goer into theaters? I think not. But, if you're a fashionista and into name dropping, this film is right up your alley.
Bergdorf Goodman has been an exclusive retail destination for 111 years, indicating its enduring level of success. It attracts the elite shopper and is the dream showcase for the most sought after designers. As Michael Kors observes, "You’re only as good as your clientele." The comment speaks volumes about the film's tone and it's content.
Miele interviews over 130 talking heads, including top designers from Lagerfeld to the Olsen twins, Bergdorf's fashion director (Linda Fargo), personal shopper (Betty Halbreich) and window dresser (David Hoey). But the anecdotal musings about famous (and not so famous) shoppers are the highlights of this sometimes intriguing film.
One in particular involves a "bag lady" who ambles into the furs department and admires an extremely expensive coat. The salesman indicates it cost thousands of dollars and to his surprise, she pulls thousands out of her paper bag and purchases the coat. Others include Cher reacting to an identity mix-up, Liz Taylor ordering 200 pair of mink earmuffs and Yoko Ono purchasing 70 fur coats on Christmas Eve.
The film's title is a reference to a 1990 New Yorker cartoon by Victoria Roberts. The caption spoken by one old woman to another reads, "I want my ashes scattered at Bergdorf's." Fat chance unless, perhaps, you're Donald Trump.
The cinematography by Justin Bare is lush and visually dazzling. As he follows David Hoey creating his window "hallucinations," one can't help but be amazed by the intricacy of his incredible work. The film is also beautifully scored. The closing scene has Barbra Streisand strutting through an empty Bergdorf's singing "Second Hand Rose." It's sheer delight.
But bottom line, "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" seems too much like a sales pitch. When it's mentioned that Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme drastically affected Bergdorf's sales, I found the comment appalling and downright shallow. Suddenly, I didn't give a hoot about Bergdorf Goodman's.