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“I’ve never thought of myself as a fashion person. And I keep hearing this word over and over again and it’s something that niggles me. I think I’m more of a giver of fashion than a fashion person. I’ve taught a lot of people the little bit I know, and look, no one has been here 38 years. So something had to rub off if you have half a brain in your head. I did go to college and I was a sociology major so maybe I was put on earth to take care of people and I landed up in the world at Bergdorf Goodman.”

Betty Halbreich

Director of Solutions, Bergdorf Goodman. New York

Preparing for an afternoon at Solutions—that would be the Bergdorf Goodman office of the one and only Betty Halbreich—is every bit as intimidating a process as you'd think it would be. We thought afternoons with supermodels or meeting Karl Lagerfeld made for a #darkinnermonologue, but they have nothing on Halbreich's unflinchingly honest and straightforward assessments of everything from sleeve lengths to fit. And after devouring her memoir, I'll Drink to That, with the same tenacity we'd typically reserve for making an excuse to take a long lunch and hit up a last-minute sample sale or downing Chipotle, our nerves were admittedly at an all-time high. You can imagine our surprise, then, when our visit ended with hugs and Halbreich demanding our return, like, ASAP, right?

Our afternoon at Halbreich's was our version storytime at a camp (if camp was a seven-floor department store stuffed full of CHANEL and Manolo Blahniks): we sat shiny-eyed with propped-up elbows as she gave us the tour of her office, sharing anecdotes behind each and every trinket and gift littering her space (often associated with the names of industry luminaries like Aerin Lauder and Edward Bess) and fielding our questions about everything from favorite designers to how she navigated a behemoth like Bergdorf's post, well, everything she's so bravely transparent about in her book. Oh, and we so obviously had to ask about that chocolate gun with a note from the late Joan Rivers tacked to it, right?

Us being, uh, us, we were also lucky (read: annoyingly persistent) enough to get a (rare) peek into Halbreich's wardrobe, too—everything from vintage Kenneth Jay Lane and Hermès to one-of-a-kind Dior (when the original Christian was still in the picture), Saint Laurent (ditto Yves) and Bill Blass. And Halbreich being Halbreich, there was a lengthy story behind each and every piece we unfurled from her work wardrobe. Oh, and if you happen to be the mystery weirdo from Europe who sent over the five detached metal fingers, piece-by-piece to the octogenarian? We're curious to have a word with you.

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Betty Halbreich

Director of Solutions, Bergdorf Goodman. New York

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