Meet Elle Strauss, The Mastermind Behind Bergdorf Goodman’s Inspiring New ‘Love Letters To NY’ Initiative
If you find yourself in Midtown West anytime soon, you’d be foolish to miss Bergdorf Goodman’s heart-warming and multi-faceted new campaign: “Love Letters to New York.” The initiative brings together the most beloved characters in fashion, pop culture, and the arts to share what exactly it is about the metropolis that keeps them hooked. Among those involved in the project are icons like Lauren Hutton, Debbie Harry, Christy Turlington, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Joseph Altuzarra, Brunello Cucinelli, Pierpaolo Piccioli, and so many more. Their thoughtful and passionate notes will be featured across Bergdorf Goodman’s windows, on their, digital channels, and on wild posting throughout the city—so keep your beady eyes peeled. The Daily caught up with the mastermind behind the idea: BG’s vp of creative and brand marketing Elle Strauss; a Briton and mom-of-two who has a keen eye for culture…and an enduring love for a cuppa tea.
Tell us your backstory! Was working in fashion always the end goal?
Fashion was always the end goal! As soon as I figured out what a fashion stylist was , that was it! In those days there was no Internet and there was certainly no reality TV shows. I learned about fashion through magazines and fell in love with the idea of storytelling through clothes. Much of the actual job, though, I learned first-hand by cutting my teeth doing small jobs and I was then able to rise through the ranks.
You’re from the U.K.! How did you find yourself in NYC?
My husband, James Dimmock, is also British. He is a photographer and he worked a lot in New York. James was always flying off and then one day we were just like, ‘Why don’t we move there?!’ So I sent him out first to find us an apartment. The first apartment was this matchbox on Bleecker Street and a tour bus could see right into our apartment every 30 minutes.
What were some memorable early roles you held in NYC? Did you think you’d be where you currently are now?
Being the fashion director of Shopbop was a very memorable role. Coming from the editorial world, to learn a new language of retail and e-commerce, was an incredible experience. It definitely prepared me for the role I hold today.
Tell us about your editorial career has translated into your current role?
The balance of editorial and retail is an incredibly important one. I believe the injection of editorial is integral to the success of retail. The clothes need to come alive and resonate emotionally with the customers. You don’t get that unless you have story-telling.
You’ve styled so many campaigns and covers, what have been some favorites?
Probably the latest cover, featuring a look from Gabriella Hearst’s first collection for Chloé, shot by Christian McDonald in a field with a horse. I do love a horse!
What’s your favorite thing about styling? How often does it come into your role as VP of creative and brand marketing at Bergdorf Goodman?
I don’t think it ever goes away. Styling and the way clothes can really be worn by women informs every creative decision made in one form or another.
Can you share some advice for someone looking to carve out a career similar to yours?
Work hard and you’ll always be remembered!
What’s the most British thing about you?
Well, I drink about 15 cups of tea a day!
What do you miss most about Britain?
You’re a ‘mum’ too! Do your daughters play dress up in your closet a lot?
My oldest daughter Honor, who’s 11, is obsessed with clothes and plans every single outfit the night before. She takes longer than me to get ready in the mornings! She’s been like that since she was two. The other day she called me asking if she could borrow my Chanel t-shirt. My response? Hell no! My other daughter is five, and luckily I’m still allowed to dress her. She’s more of a tomboy, which is very cool.
Tell us about the Love Letters to New York initiative? How long did it take to come to fruition and what do we need to know?
Love Letters to New York is an initiative that celebrates the unwavering spirit of New York City. Starting with our own letter in the voice of Bergdorfs, we set out to engage interesting and inspiring people who share a love for this amazing city. It’s an homage and a call-to-action for customers and fans to pen their own perspectives. We were so lucky that so many amazing individuals from New York icons like Debbie Harry and Christy Turnlington to the designers we work with like Michael Kors and Pierpaolo Piccioli got on board. We’ve also developed an immersive online and in-store experience, where people can contribute and participate in the initiative from an Instagram filter that puts the user in our iconic windows, to a writing desk on the main floor
What was your favorite part of orchestrating this initiative?
There are so many new and interesting facets to the initiative, and they’re all close to my heart. But I would have to say that the Instagram filter, which opens with Linda Fargo, and the window installation that extends outside and covers the scaffolding on 58th Street were among the most exciting to see come to fruition.
The people involved are incredible—how did you go about identifying who to approach to take part?
The commonality among the people we tapped is their love of New York. When we set out to engage these voices, we knew we wanted the theme to truly resonate with them, otherwise it would feel inorganic. We wanted the letters to have a universality to them and feel like an extension of how they inspire through their own work, much like how New York inspires them. As the letters trickled in, it was an emotionally gratifying experience to read each one and know we had incredible material to share with the world.
Lastly, why does New York have your heart?
I lived on the West Coast for a couple of years and even though you can’t beat the weather in L.A., New York permanently pulled on my heart strings to return—and I’m SO glad we did!