— Within 30 seconds in her airy, orchid-filled office three floors above
"I know why you have a problem with pants," Halbreich said dryly, patting my hip.
Halbreich, an 85-year-old personal shopper at
Frank, warm and wickedly funny, Halbreich counsels powerful women at their most vulnerable moments — when they're standing naked in the luxury department store's mirrored rooms, trying to dress for a new career, new spouse, new body size.
For a recent hour, on a springlike Tuesday afternoon, she was dressing me.
Halbreich had pulled from the racks a soft, pastel green Theory leather jacket (marked down from $825 to $499); a flowing, navy, sequined top from Alice & Olivia ($330); a black-and-white, graphic print A-line
"Oh, dear God, come up into the new world," Halbreich said. "First of all, this skirt moves. It covers whatever you're trying to hide."
When director Matthew Miele started making "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" in 2011, his primary interest was in the artists who designed the store's intricate windows, which his family had come into
"She was no-holds-barred candid; she came out with the funniest things," Miele said.
Halbreich began her career in her 40s, when she was a mother of two with an unraveling marriage. She started at Bergdorf's in 1976, running the shop's Geoffrey Beene boutique, an era when women — even the rich ones — were changing the way they lived and the way they shopped.
"I'd see these women, they were needy," said Halbreich, who was wearing a dark
Halbreich has an uncanny ability to size up her clients' moods in an instant and coax them through life's difficult moments with a joke and a properly fitted dress.
"I love the baggage," she said. "I love the stories. I have someone this afternoon, she's the ugly stepmother of the child getting married. Which means I'm going to get a chip on the shoulder because she's buying anything."
Halbreich is not paid on commission by choice, and she loves to dig up bargains in a store that caters to the kind of people who can own their own islands. In a designer-obsessed industry, she is agnostic.
"I don't pick from labels," she said. "I pick visually. I pride myself on that."
And she does it well. After three dresses in a row fit impeccably, Halbreich declared, "I've done very well on you. Maybe I'll keep this job."
She had brought several pairs of black pants into the fitting room for me to try as well but grabbed my arm, looked me in the eyes and said, "For the pants, go to