GOING, GOING, GONE:
Henri Bendel To Be Put Out Of Its Misery By January
September 14, 2018
After what has been decades of re-positioning and revamping, the erstwhile paragon of New York chic, Henri Bendel, will be closing its doors by the end of January. All 25 locations of the retailer will be shuttered by parent company L Brands including the Fifth Avenue flagship.
Anyone familiar with the store's most recent incarnation may wonder why it was constantly referred to as "Legendary", but up until about 10 years ago, Bendel's was still among the leading fashion retailers in New York. Its most vital period occurred from the 1960s through the 1980s when it was run by Geraldine Stutz, a luxury merchant who was something of a legend herself, responsible for introducing many a young designer to her influential customers including names like Stephen Burrows, Sonia Rykiel and Barry Kieselstein -Cord among many others. Having an in-store shop or even a dedicated counter at the original store at 10 West 57th Street was considered a coup in the industry. Stutz eventually acquired the store herself, and then sold it to The Limited in the mid-80s. Upon her retirement, Bendel's was moved to it's current, larger flagship on Fifth Avenue in the restored Coty Building, uncovering a forgotten set of Lalique glass windows that prompted the city to designate the building a landmark. Attempts by its owner to expand into a luxury chain to rival Neiman Marcus or Saks failed, as management revolved through the single-store retailer with varying results and responses from the fashion community and shoppers. Finally, in 2009, the company dropped apparel altogether to focus on beauty and accessories, a signal that its owner, now called L Brands, was ready to take another crack at mining some revenue from the brand. By 2014, the company had eliminated all other brands form its inventory, and would now focus on cosmetics and its own brand of moderately priced accessories and handbags. It seemed a far cry from the the store's rich heritage, and, it now seems to have been another ill-advised direction for the brand. It will cease to operate at the beginning of next year, leaving a lavish flagship, waiting for a tenant worthy of and rich enough for the space.