An interview with Elle Strauss on “Love Letters To New York” by Bergdorf Goodman

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Bergdorf Goodman unveiled a beautiful campaign, “Love Letters to New York”. The interactive digital initiative and immersive in-store installation celebrate the retailer’s love for New York City.

Through a series of love letters to the city written by some of New Yorkers, influencers, artists, contributors and designers, the initiative captures the dynamic spirit of New York through a storytelling lens.

The authors of the love letter include models and actresses Lauren Hutton and Hari Nef, musician Debbie Harry, model and activist Christy Turlington, curator Isolde Brielmaier and an extensive roster of cultural influencers including Casey Fremont, George Hahn, Lauren Servideo, Leila Gohar, Mei Kawajiri, Michael Bargo and Nicola Vassell. They are joined by famous American designers and partners of Bergdorf Goodman such as Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of Oscar de la Renta, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, Irene Neuwirth, Jason Wu, Joseph Altuzarra, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and Peter Do. A testament to the universal resonance of New York City, Bergdorf Goodman also called on renowned international designers, including Albert Kriemler of Akris, Brunello Cucinelli, Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino, and more.

Here are some excerpts from love letters:

Lauren Hutton wrote: “I wanted to know what’s going on – and, boy, there’s no place like New York to figure out what’s going on.”

Laura Kim of Oscar de la Renta wrote: “Witnessing your resilience this year has made my love for you even stronger.”

Simone Roche wrote: “Feeling small in a giant city, feeling there and wanting more … Can’t wait to go back soon.”

Michael Kors wrote: “I love the strength, intelligence and resilience of New Yorkers … my beloved city, you have never ceased to amaze”.

George Hahn wrote: “The life I had was because I was here. And a big part of the man I have become is because of this city ”.

The idea behind this immersive campaign is Elle Strauss, VP of Creative and Brand Marketing at Bergdorf goodman. Born in Great Britain, based in New York, and with over 20 years of experience in traditional publishing, new media and e-commerce in the fashion, luxury and lifestyle categories. In addition, she has extensive expertise in creative direction, branding, styling, merchandising and editing for editorial and commercial work.

“Deep down, She’s a storyteller born with a rare ability to inspire an emotional connection with brands and products, so she was a natural fit for the role at Bergdorf Goodman. She is an expert at creating extraordinary visual stories that resonate through all of our touchpoints with our clients. With Love Letters to New York, She brought our shared admiration for New York City to life in a deeply personal way that only she can. I am incredibly proud of this campaign and the fact that all departments in the organization have helped make it a success. It’s a testament to what this city means to us as a business and as individuals. – Darcy Penick, President of Bergdorf Goodman.

Angela Chan: How did you get started in the fashion industry?

Elle Strauss: I started as an intern at British Elle. After I graduated from college, I went to work for The Face Magazine (where she met her photographer husband during a photoshoot). Then I went back to work for British Elle, and that was the start of my career. Prior to Bergdorf Goodman, I held positions as Fashion Director and Editor for Brides Magazine, Condé Nast’s Lucky Magazine, and ShopBop.com.

Chan: Tell us about BG’s “Love Letters to New York” campaign.

Strauss: The kickoff was “It’s a New York Life” starting this May. “Love Letters to New York,” extends the storytelling to the countryside that allows for a deeper connection with everyone. People don’t buy what they need; they buy what they want. There is an emotional connection to what you buy, and if you can tell the story of your lifestyle, that emotional connection will resonate with you. Everyone loves New York – rather you are a tourist, you live here, you work here, or like me, a transplant, something is amazing with this city that touches everyone.

Chan: What did you like the most about this campaign?

Strauss: Our actors Alek Wek, Ahn Duong, Lauren Hutton, Ella Emhoff and Hari Nef truly represent the distinctive voices and styles of New York. These unique qualities represent the makeup of our customers. To film this incredible cast on the streets of New York and to see them tell us about their love for this city is remarkable to me. These are beautiful moments, delicious personal messages and stories that we have translated and shared with our audience.

Chan: Have you written a love letter?

Strauss: I wrote one for my internal team. It was a big thank you for their hard work. It’s about the collaborative efforts of my team and the other departments, so much energy and effort that goes into building this incredible campaign.

Chan: What was your personal favorite from the campaign?

Strauss: I love Lauren Hutton’s love letter. She is a lovely person and really cares about everything and everyone. Her letter made everyone shudder when we read it.

Chan: What are your best times in New York, and what was your first BG moment?

Strauss: I have been in New York for 14 years and have many New York moments. We got married at City Hall 13 years ago in December and had our two children in New York City. My first BG moment was when I got my first Chanel bag from BG, and I remember my husband saying I was very dangerous with my purchases. New York and BG complement each other in their iconicity. It is truly a privilege to work for such a brilliant company in the bigger city.

Chan: If you could time travel, what would be the one piece of advice you could give yourself at the start of your professional journey?

Strauss: I would tell myself not to worry too much and everything will work out. My advice would be to work hard and lead with your strength.

Chan: What is your strength?

Strauss: I think it’s crucial to build and lead a good team and support your team. Leading a team is a huge responsibility, and I want everyone to come to work happy.

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