Marvin S. Traub, a retailing impresario who transformedBloomingdale’s from a dusty family department store into an international showcase of style and showmanship in the 1970s and ’80s, died on Wednesday, aged 87.
One of the most creative retailers of his era, Mr. Traub made Bloomingdale’s synonymous with luxury, introduced many of the world’s best-known clothing designers and created a national chain that acquired a reputation for status-conscious merchandising and chic interior moods that dazzled the eye, reported the New York Times.
At his flagship store, at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan — a block-square emporium that stood hard by the rumble of Third Avenue elevated trains until 1955 — he staged promotional events with the dazzle of a Broadway opening.
As if Bloomingdale’s had its own foreign policy, he saluted China, Italy, France, Portugal, Ireland and Israel with lavish productions that featured not only traditional furnishings, clothing and gourmet foods but also displays of artifacts from antiquity, glittering dinner parties and guest lists that included ambassadors, business titans, movie stars, presidents’ wives and sometimes royalty.
During America’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1976, Mr. Traub escorted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip through crowds of gawking shoppers as the royal couple took in Wedgwood china, winter sportswear reminiscent of Britain’s hunting gear and reproductions of English antique furniture.
In 1980, “Come to China at Bloomingdale’s,” a six-week pageant Mr. Traub negotiated in Beijing like a treaty, featured an entire Cantonese farmhouse, a Chinese garden pavilion and 20 exquisite robes from 1763 to 1908 that had never been seen outside the Forbidden City. He filled 14 branch stores in the Northeast with enough food, fashions and filigree for 11 million shoppers.
“We are not only in competition with other stores, but with the Guggenheim and the Met,” Mr. Traub once explained.