23 December 2010

A 1972 Christmas - From Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus President and CEO, Burt Tansky called the NM Christmas catalog, published since 1915, "...fanciful, improbable and extraordinary" adding, "our lavish, outlandish and sometimes outrageous Christmas gifts made their debut 50 years ago." "Page after page..." Mr Tansky calls it a collection of, "wonder, whimsy and WOW." This and more superlatives are featured in, "Over the Top" by Assouline for $50.

If you'd like to give the book as a gift - try shooting for Valentine's Day. It seems the book was sent out in a limited release according to my bookstore, Rizzoli. They only had two. Odd that. Actually, I'm not impressed by the book much less Assouline's competence when it comes to distribution. What did impress me was the book pictured above and purchased for $3 at a book stall on the upper west side. His & Hers by Stanley Marcus.

Marcus goes back to the beginning with in depth descriptions of product, covers and in 1960 the idea behind the unusual NM gift. Burt Tansky won't tell you which "over the top" gifts have sold but Stanley does in his book ... at least up to 1982.

Here's a 1972 catalog I found. Stanley explains the first cover, "...was so dull and unexciting that we were forced to reject it. We were caught at the last moment without a cover, and in desperation we utilized the Vasarely scarf that had been in the catalog a couple years previously."

The scarf was a His & Hers feature from the 1969 catalog and was sold as a pair for $750. Designed by Victor Vasarely and silkscreened by hand in Switzerland on 36" squares, it didn't do too well. Marcus explains, "...the coloration and design made it perfectly suitable for a Christmas cover. It also helped us finally to sell off the balance of our stock."

"There were two idea pages that year, neither was very successful from the point of view of sales but which did generate good publicity. The first gift was "His and Her" lifesize dummies made to reproduce the image of anyone the buyer chose... These dummies, operated by a remote control button that could be cued in to laugh at the most inane of jokes, could even be sent as proxies to sit in at a dull party. It proved not to be one of my best ideas." S.M. His and Hers

"The other big gift was one that Edward Marcus discovered. It was a jet-powered glider plane and it, too, flopped -- for entirely different reasons. The jet engine gave it greater mobility by allowing it to take off from almost any field and eliminating the necessity of a tow plane. But unfortunately the plane was never certified by the FAA, and while we had several responsible orders -- at $32,000 -- we were unable to fill them." S.M. His & Hers

Marcus does not mention this George Ciancimino designed wall unit with Sony components but it sings to me. I just need an Eame's chair. $2,000 for the wall unit alone and another $2,730 for the reel to reel, amp, turntable and VCR.

Not Over-the-Top but more, Under-The-Table. A location shoot in Guadalajara (the Match Game's destination of choice). From Left- Mola handworked by San Blas Indians applied to cotton skirt- $110. Navy blazer with yellow, green and white embroidery by Sussex Clothes- $185. Festival of Flowers halter top by Malia of Hawaii - $34. I loved halter tops. I still do.

If ever there was '70s look - this was it: Malbe's ecru blouse-$35 and deep bottle green pj pants $42. All by Judy Hornby. Satin belt with ivory-color buckle - $10.

Major Frampton's wife. Ft Monroe Officer's Club. Enough said. Some skirt stripes ($28) are checked to match top ($16). Both by David Smith.

T.A. Davis wood racket not for sale. Winter white acrylic dress $35 and (be still my heart) matching bikini for $10. All by Hampton Court Knits.

I'm sure he's riding a Fuji. NM exclusive rendition of rugby stripes in cotton knit and made in France. $18.50

Just because Boris Badenov can get away with wearing a leather trench doesn't mean you can.

And just because Jann Wenner wore this throughout the '70s doesn't mean you can. Then or now. V Neck wool Cricket sweater - $25 White wool flannel slacks- $55 Bow Tie $10. All by Ralph Lauren.

How many dimples can this tie hold? Tartan shirt by Embassy - $20 Italian parquet weave tie by Berkley $10.

More ties. This is a Christmas catalog. L-R Liberty of London print- $9 and a Hut racquet club tie for $8.50

And the amazing gift wrap service. Free for years. Then with purchase minimums and finally gone all together. (click on any image to enlarge)


LPC said...

And I JUST saw a look so similar to that ecru/bottle green combo. Was it Versace? Damn. I can't remember. For 2011. It's baaaaaaack. Luckily, I'm a big fan of high-waisted pants, for women, so I'm on board. Happy Holidays Mr. Trad. Have some fun.

Patsy said...

Some of the women's apparel would not be out of place today. OK, not so much the turban - I wouldn't want that, even with free N-M gift wrap.

Anonymous said...

The Rizzoli "flagship" store on 57th is indeed an amazing store.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious how most of the men have this Hugh Hefner thing going. Missing are the mustaches, though. The women are working the last vestiges of a toothy, pouty Twiggy era persona. Only the golfer with the short dark hair still holds up, in my opinion.

I'm just glad I don't remember the '70s looking so..."porn."


heavy tweed jacket said...

I agree with Patsy, some one the women's sportswear has stood the test of time well. I might consider the dress Gordon tartan vest. Thought about the stereo, but goodness, that probably took up a lot of space. Groovy post.

Jordan said...

I love the shoe-box shaped ties at the end... with ties i feel gimme skinny or old RL fat... don't like in between..
that tape set up reminds of my mom draggin me to her old high school boyfriends mansion in Miami Beach- he was a poor jewish kid who struck it rich in plastic surgery (Miami's 1# product)and was showing it off listening to Neil Diamond on reel-to-reel..Yes, a reel to reel.

Jordan said...

by the way, merry christmas tintin...


Is it wrong that I find the womens' apparel and the women wearing said apparel so goddamn sexy? I've bitten a hole he size of a dip can in my palm.

brohammas said...

Good Heavens. I must practice self control as every time I cringe at an era's clothing I soon find myself watching kids on MTV sporting said apparel. Didn't like it then, dont like it now... wait, is that a traddy attitude?


Trailer Trad said...

I think these looks are more right than wrong. But, then again, I like ties with dimples that can hold my spare change.