Bloomingdale’s opens this week at The Dubai Mall, but how much do you know about the iconic NYC store?
1 Founded by brothers Joseph and Lyman Bloomingdale, Bloomingdale’s (see what they did there?) opened its doors on April 17, 1872, the same year that the Mary Celeste was discovered bobbing crewless in the Atlantic ocean, Australia connected with the outside world via the overland telegraph, and Thomas Hardy published his seminal classic, Under The Greenwood Tree.
2 The first item the brothers offered in their store was a hoop skirt. Pub quiz regulars will know that the invention of the hoop skirt is often attributed to the wife of Napoleon III, who allegedly used the contraption to hide her pregnancy from the French aristocracy.
3 At the end of the first day’s trading, it’s unlikely the brothers went on a spending spree – the till contained just US$3.68 (Dhs12.88). Not that they had much to spend their profits on: Bloomingdale’s predated the telephone, the electric light and the automobile.
4 The year 1961 was a good one: it started on a Sunday, West Side Story appeared at the cinema, and the Big Brown Bag made its debut in Bloomingdale’s linen department, after staff put in a special request for a really big bag to accommodate the increasingly larger pillows. The Little Brown Bag, for cosmetics and accessories, followed a year later.
5 In 1976, Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to Bloomingdale’s (never underestimate the pulling power of the Big Brown Bag). To accommodate her, the city reversed traffic flow on Lexington Avenue so she could exit her car on its right side and enter the store through the main entrance.
6 Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabanna, Norma Kamali, John Galliano, Sonia Rykiel and Kenzo were all discovered at Bloomingdale’s. (Not just walking around the store, you understand – their designs debuted there.)
7 Despite its huge popularity, the department store has never spread its wings outside the US – until now. There’s yet another record for Dubai…
8 In 1913 the store gained its very own subway station, at 58th Street and Lexington. And how many stores in the world can claim that accolade? If you head to 58th and Lexington, you’ll find yourself in Bloomingdale’s basement. This reinforced the store’s old slogan: ‘All cars transfer to Bloomingdale’s’.
9 In which famed TV show did Bloomingdale’s play a major role? That’s right, sofa-fanatics, it’s where Rachel works in hit US sitcom Friends.
10 Renowned architect Frank Gehry and Italian film director Federico Fellini are just two of the big names who have designed extravagant in-store ‘model rooms’, where designers work their magic to create an impressive showcase using Bloomingdale’s furniture and accessories.