The Follies of Bergdorf

You can’t fool me–

There ain’t no Sanity Claus!

Fiorello (Chico Marx)

What era would I love to relive?   Take a guess from my favorite holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman.   The BG Follies of 2012 are inspired by the Ziegfeld Follies, Vaudeville revues and Hollywood classics.  Imagine spending more than a year (never mind the $$$) of letting your imagination run wild, making your fantastic visions come true?   I say “That ain’t work!!!”

Bergdorf’s blog shares behind the scenes video and photos of the art process of their obsessive old world craftsmen at   Click on “Leave a Comment” to share:  What would your daughter do if she saw mom kissing Santa?

Mommy Kissing Santa Bergdorf Goodman Follies 2012 by Sharon Birke

Act I.  By Request  An all girl orchestra (in Marc Jacobs, Philip Lim, Elie Saab, etc) pays homage to Bill Wilder’s Marilyn Monroe and her silver ukelele in “Some Like It Hot.”   This window is my absolute fave with its bird’s eye view of glamorously dressed women having a grand old time practicing their craft.


Act II Naughty and Nice  is a tribute to burlesque performer Sally Rand, inventor of the risque fan dance, covered in thousands of white feathers meticulously constructed into an all white mosaic.


Act III A Cast of Thousands showcases a collection of mid-century miniature American mannequins (once used for display merchandising and sewing practice)   as 1920s Ziegfeld Follies girls on fifteen miniature stage reproductions made from replica 18th-Century wood moulding.


Act IV Daredevils Inspired by cartoonist Rube Goldberg is Fifth Avenue’s novelty act featuring a runway look from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2013 collection.   Every surface is covered in gold and silver leaf while 24 plaster dogs perform every trick under the sun.

Bergdorf Goodman Follies 2012 by Sharon Birke



Act V  Finale    Approximately 1,000 individually beveled mirrors create this kaleidoscope set into motion by 7 separate rotating motors.  A homage to Busby Berkeley’s overhead kaleidoscopic camera shot seen in Footlight Parade, complimented by Naeem Khan gowns that mimic Berkeley’s famous waterfall number.

ps  Bergdorf’s fabulous windows are on display through January 3 if you’d like to join their Instagram contest.

Bergdorf Goodman Follies 2012 by Sharon Birke

 © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Faking It at the Met

“The camera never lies” is

photography’s supreme fiction.

Faking It Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A conspiratorial grin came over me reading the quote above from the intro to Faking It:  Manipulated Photography before Photoshop, a current exhibit at the Met.   I prefer a natural look in my portraits so Photoshop is not a big love.  Even then, between styling and lighting choices, how I coach posing, and the angles from which I photograph, the camera becomes a tool for telling my version of a truth.  So, yes, Edward Steichen may be right is saying “Every photo is a fake from start to finish” considering how each of us chooses what truth we want to believe in to cope, flourish or dominate.

You’re not likely to catch me cutting and pasting multiple negatives to get a woman to sit in a champagne glass, superimpose a figure on a lamp, or create a fantastic cat woman’s face.  I’d sooner use a fan to simulate the vision of gusty winds though I’m not beneath tying strings to pull the seams of a kimono.  Yet who knows?  One day, my curiosity may lead me to investigate how Avedon created his simple Audrey Hepburn collage.

We all enjoy a creative trick that enthralls and keeps us guessing, be it a tall tale or a political statement using humorous juxtapositions, tweaked photojournalism or clever photomontages.  When we choose the wrinkle free and less pudgy images of ourselves, what does this say about our love affair with denial?   Having to endure  the harsh critic in our mirror everyday, a portrait of ourselves in our best light can be a treasured reprieve, if not a siren call from our true greatness.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how fantasy has opened doors of possibility for you. xoxox

Sharon Birke

Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Photos on this page are selections from Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, exhibit on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through Jan. 27, 2013.


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