For Fargo, 51, who grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, creativity and eclecticism have always come naturally. "I was a huge costume-box kid," she remembers, "always dressing everyone else and arranging the roles and scenes and playing it out once we put costumes on. I remember stiletto sandals with a rhinestone buckle. They were the big glamour piece."
As a teenager, she began making small collage boxes after the artist Joseph Cornell. "I am a collagist at heart. I wanted to make these little worlds," she says of her early artistic impulse. After completing her B.F.A., Fargo went to New York City and landed a job as a window dresser at Macy's 34th Street flagship. "I got into retail because I wanted something to do that combined my artistic abilities with a way to make a living," she says.
Eleven years later, she was visual director of the 1 million-sq.-ft.-plus (93,000 sq m) store. She then moved on to visual merchandising for I. Magnin, the now defunct luxury chain, and Gap. "I wanted to try the mass-market world," she says. "It had become about mass, and Gap was a leader. That experience crystallized what I needed. For me, it had to be about the elegance, the theater." She was hired to do the visuals at Bergdorf's in 1996 and has been promoted twice since.
Fargo works like a fashion editor, culling trends from the detailed notes she takes at fashion shows, sifting down to the specific items and looks she feels should be emphasized in the store. But unlike an editor's job, hers does not stop with the fantasy. "The difference between magazines and a store is they don't have to sell what they love," she says. "We do."
Currently, Fargo is casting her eye over several important initiatives in the store. Chanel (one of Bergdorf's top-selling vendors) is celebrating the opening of a grand, main-floor accessory boutique. It coincides with the debut of a large onyx-and-metal-clad space for the most forward luxury handbags, including YSL, Lanvin, Bottega Veneta and VBH. And there are plans to expand the highly profitable designer-shoe salon by 2010, which means reducing the area for ready-to-wear on the second floor. "These changes are expensive," Fargo says of the renovation, rumored to cost $3 million. "As a retailer, you have to anticipate and justify your moves. There's a lot of risk in all of this." For Fargo, it's all one high-stakes, luxury collage. here's an interview i found with a woman you MUST know...LEARN IT! enjoy
How do you decide what to buy for the store?
Bergdorf's has a great old-world feel to it while still having some really avant-garde designers. Do you get a real mix of customers? 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.