Bonwit Teller, New York City, New York










Bonwit Teller & Company
721 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York (1907)


ELdorado 5-6800







First Floor
Jewelry • Fine Jewelry • Scarves • Hosiery • Gloves • Hat Bar • Handbags • Fashion Accessories • Purse Accessories • Umbrellas • Blouses • Couture Blouses • Hèrmes Boutique • Miss Bonwit Millinery • Stationery • Luggage Shop
First Floor - 57th St. Wing
The Men’s Shop • Hunting World Boutique • Turnbull & Asser • Men’s Fragrance Bar • Aramis Corner • Cosmetics • Perfumes
First Floor - 56th St.
Pierre Cardin Boutique


Second Floor
Gift Shop • Antique Shop • Boehm Gallery • Tablerie • Bath Shop • Café Orsini • The Shoe Salon • The Weekend Shop • The Lunch Break • Espresso Shop for Young Sports
Second Floor - 57th St. Wing
Fur Salon
Second Floor - 56th St.
Personnel


Third Floor
La Boutique (Bed and Bath Shop) • Lingerie • Robes • At-Home Fashions • In or Out • Daywear • Blouses • The Body Shop • Junior Lingerie
Third Floor - 57th St. Wing
Bridal Salon


Fourth Floor - Collection Clothes
Collection Sportswear • Collection Dresses • Collection Coats and Suits • S’Fari Now • Rainboutique • Country Place • Fur Boutique • Sports Boutique • Lady Bonwit
Designer Boutiques Beene Boutique • Courrèges Couture Future • Pierre Cardin Boutique pour les Femmes • Ungaro Boutique • Hermès Fashion Boutique • Kenzo Boutique • Just Kasper
Fourth Floor - 57th St. Wing
Michel Kazan Beauty Salon • Catch-A-Coif Corner


Fifth Floor - The Sports Floor
Sweaters • Blouses • Sportswear • Sports Dresses • Active Sportswear • Leather Shop • B.H. Wragge Room • Ski Boutique • Chuck Howard Boutique • The Collector’s Shop


Sixth Floor
Designer Salon • Designer Dresses • Designer Sportswear • Missoni Boutique • Designer Coats and Suits • Designer Millinery • Cyclax of London’s Face Place • Richard Feigen Graphics Gallery • GO Travel Service


Seventh Floor - Miss Bonwit Jr.
Junior Dresses • Designer Dresses • Career Shop • Junior Sportswear • Junior Coats • Junior Accessories • The Beach House • Distraction • Distraction Accessories • Pearl’s Place for Young Juniors • All Together Now • Luba Boutique • Eres Boutique • The Back Room • 700 BC Finn Birger Christensen Furs • Piquenique Bar


Eighth Floor - Miss Bonwit
Miss Bonwit Dresses • Miss Bonwit Sportswear • Miss Bonwit Career Dreses • Miss Bonwit Coats • Miss Bonwit Shoes • Miss Bonwit Evening Dresses • Miss Bonwit’s East Room


Ninth Floor - Young Ninth Floor
Infants • Toddlers • Girls • Boys’ Shop • Young Accessories • Young Shoes • Area Code 212 Shop for Young Teens • Bonwiteens • Petit Faune Boutique • Old Fashioned Mr. Jennings
(225,000 sq. ft.) 









Philadelphia
1700 Chestnut Street
1907/1929


Palm Beach
301 Worth Avenue
1923


White Plains
November, 1941
13,000 s.f.


Boston
234 Berkeley St.
1947


Chicago
875 N. Michigan Avenue
1949/1969


Cleveland
1331 Euclid Ave.
1951


Manhasset
2101 Northern Blvd.
1957
60,000 s.f.


Short Hills
The Mall at Short Hills
1961
65,000 s.f.


Wynnewood
Wynnewood Shopping Center
1954

Jenkintown
Avenue of Shops
Old York Road at Rydal Road
1955




Oak Brook
Oakbrook Center
1963
66,000 s.f.


Scarsdale
Vernon Hills Shopping Center
700 Post Rd.
1967
53,000 s.f.


Troy
Somerset Mall
1969




Beverly Hills
Wilshire and Rodeo
1972








Coming in due Course.


































54 comments:

  1. Also branches at:
    Richland Mall - Columbia, SC
    Columbiana Center - Columbia, SC
    Palm Desert Town Center - Palm Desert, CA
    Bal Harbour, FL
    Miami Beach, FL
    745 N. Michigan Ave. - Chicago, IL
    Northbrook Court - Northbrook, IL
    Oak Park, IL??
    Country Club Plaza - Kansas City, MO
    Walden Galleria - Cheektowaga, NY
    Carousel Center - Syracuse, NY
    Forest Fair Mall - Cincinnati, OH

    A sad ending to a great store.

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  2. Thank you for all of these postings!!! I'm going through your website and loving it. So interesting and informative! :)

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  3. I just found your blog WOW very cool! I archive vintage fashion photography & advertising @ myvintagevogue.com I have so many ads from some of these amazing stores it's so great to see and read about their history - thanks

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  4. Columbiana Center in Columbia, SC never had a Bonwit Teller. Only Richland Mall ha a Bonwit Teller and it lasted less than 2 years. The wrong store for the wrong market.

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  5. Those violet strewn bags and hat boxes!!!!
    So chic! They had just about the best men's store in NY and carried Hermes! Hermes! Such a sad, useless ending when that greedy Donald Trump built that hideous tower with a useless tacky mall inside. Such a shame!!!
    Thanks for this wonderful site.

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  6. Love your information so neat.i bought a madame Alexander doll on EBay and it came from a Bonwit teller store but not sure which one.the doll has the box and a price tag of $310.00.I think that was probably about 35 years ago.The person i bought it from had it stored away for 35+ years smile.So that was in late 70's early 80's.It is such a beautiful doll smile.So i wanted to see and find out who you where and what you were about.Thanxs for the great pictures and information.

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  7. There was no store like Bonwit Teller. I was a Buyer for Sak's during the mid-late 70s when the 5th Avenue store existed....they were the grand dame of haute couture. Bergdorf at the time did not come close, in fact they were on the decline. The 5th Avenue store (pre Trump) was a magnificent emporium of the finest womens and mens RTW. Every vendor wanted to be in Bonwit's...they were simple that great. Their demise, of course started with the loss of the 5th Avenue store and the new store was an utter nightmare. I still have my BT violet charge plate and several iconic BT shopping bags. They were simply the best of all specialty stores. With the exception of the Florida and Illinois stores, the others listed by first comment were either short lived or never opened BT stores by the Hooker Company who bankrupted BT along with Altman's and Sakowitz. Their Philadelphia stores were real treasures of architecture, they fit the surrounding areas perfectly, as did the merchandise. This is perhaps the one retailer I still to this day is sad to see gone...they did not deserve what happened to them

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  8. One more point, to recap the BT stores (these were the stores not opened or built by Hooker, which as stated either were built or built and never opened...this would be the Ohio, SC and upper NY state stores--which were NOT REAL BT's)
    New York City
    Manhasset
    Scarsdale
    Short Hills
    Boston
    Philadelphia
    Wynewood
    Jenkintown
    Palm Beach
    Bal Harbour
    Troy
    Kansas City
    Chicago
    Oakbrook
    Beverly Hills
    Palo Alto
    and last store build as original BT-Palm Desert, CA

    all others listed on top by Anonymous were not real BT's

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  9. The Cleveland, Ohio Bonwit Teller WAS part of the original Bonwit Teller stores. I still have my original Bonwit Teller credit card from them which lists the Cleveland location on the back in addition to the original New York City location. The card is very very old as it carries my full address at that time and has a City and Zone number rather than a Zip Code--ie Cleveland 11, Ohio as opposed to Cleveland, Ohio 44111 which would be pre 1963 when then zip code system came in place in July, 1963.

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  10. Bonwit Teller in Manhasset had one of the most beautiful store on the Miricle Mile in Manhasset, unfortunately the service was usually rude. Nonetheless it went out of business the same at B Altman for all the wrong reasons..greed being the major reason. So now its a Whole Foods store.

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  11. Back in the mid 70's I once ran into the old time actress Lillian Gish in Bonwit Teller on 56th. I mean literally ran into her...well a small mass of mink coat. I was told: you just bumped into Lillian Gish (I had never heard of her). Actually she walked into me, but I was a mere no one...very much like today! At least I had my brush with greatness. Wait, I am sure I have never seen a movie with her in it...who is she? I know one thing, she was clearly a Bonwit Teller customer!

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  12. great to find a photo of the main Bonwit Teller store. Such a pic is almost impossible to find on the internet! must have made a perfect pair with the Tiffany building

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  13. I am the daughter of a woman who worked for the original Bonwit Teller stores in NYC an WHite Plains. I still have a Bonwit Teller tin, a Bonwit Teller bear and her Bonwit Teller tag. I t broke my heart to see such a glorious, elegant store be so mismanaged and brought to ruin by companies like Genesco and Federated who didn't really give a damn about saving it and simply milked the cash cow until it was dry. My mother worked in the Miss Bonwit women's dept. What wonderful memories I have of the original elegance and splendor of the NY and White Plains stores.

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  14. I am the daughter of a woman who worked in the original NYC and White Plains stores for more than 30 years. It broke my heart to see the stores so mismanaged by companies like Genesco and Federated that didn't really give a damn about saving the stores, they simply milked the cash cow for everything it was worth and brought it to ruin. I still have an original Bonwit Teller tin, a Bonwit Teller Bear and my mother's Bonwit Teller badge. I have wonderful memories of the splendor and elegance of the original stores.

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  15. Dear CKR:

    How true. The shame is that very few people understand this sort of "splendor and elegance" of which you speak. I often wonder if something isn't fundamentally wrong when practically every single institution of this kind which grew and developed over many, many years, surviving even "the great depression," couldn't make it in the world we live in today.

    Thank you for the heart-felt comments!

    BAK

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  16. There has been talk of reviving the store... I think it is doable and I am up for the challenge...

    I visited the old Philadelphia store this weekend (now a Daffy's.. how the mighty are fallen!) and one can see the "bones" of what was once a great store..

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  17. My husband helped frame Bonwit Teller at The Carousel in Syracuse. Amazing soffits and beautiful paintings. Natural lighting down to the 1st floor. Sad to learn that the store has been closed - wished our son would have gotten a chance to see this ingenious design.

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  18. how interesting~*

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  19. I remember how perfume was sprayed in the entrance to the 5th Ave. store as one approached the revolving doors...a little sign near the doors identified the perfume one was enjoying...how elegant was that!

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  20. In the opening scene of the film "Breakfast at Tiffany" as the taxi pulls up to Tiffany, and before Audrey Hepburn steps out, one can see the facade and street floor display windows of Bonwit's. You have to look fast, the shot is a short one.

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  21. Hello- I have a handled limoges dish, hand painted w/fruit and stamped on the back "made for bonwit teller". I have had no luck in locating this on the net. ANY information anyone may have will be tremendously appreciated! You can send to my email address: egerson623@aol.com Thanks in advance

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  22. I always loved shopping in the early fifties and into the sixties with my Mom and Sister in Manhassett and Garden City. Back then, there were no malls, and living in Stony Brook in Suffolk County, we drove the near hour or so to the department stores and stopped for lunch in Garden City where my grandmother lived. On other occasions we would have a treat right in one of the department stores such as "The Birdcage" or at a marvelous little place called the "Tiffin Shop" in Garden City. (That was my very favorite - it had a very grownup feel to it - the dining tables had white tablecloths and it was kind of dimly lit - but the food was lovely.) I later learned that "tiffin" means lunch in India.......but I digress.
    Seeing this info about Bonwitt's makes me want to consider an essay on those family shopping sojourns in more "ladylike" times.....not too many of the sales ladies back then were snapping gum, and manners were still observed. Smiles and good times. The art and elegance of Bonwitts still remains in my heart. I loved the artists and art objects they supported,'
    A perennial gift of choice when we needed to find "just the right something" might be one of the beautiful hand beaded arrangements that Mom would then transfer to a valuable piece of Lowestoft for a gift....we wore Polo coats back then - (way before Ralph) and we also had occasion to don our white gloves and hats for church,
    Places like Best and Co., Peck and Peck, B.Altman, Lord and Taylor and of course Macy's were a part of my life then - and wistfully only a couple have survived the decades.
    In the age of Wall Mart and Costco, Target and T.J. Max, I have a secret place in my heart for the old elegance - the special feeling of shopping.
    Shopping was a treat - a necessity as well, but the idea was to make a day of it - and it was in those collections of days that I believe my first eagerness to create art may have been stirred up.
    Thanks for the reminder and the timelines.
    I would love to see a return to the elegant.

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  23. I always loved shopping in the early fifties and into the sixties with my Mom and Sister in Manhassett and Garden City. Back then, there were no malls, and living in Stony Brook in Suffolk County, we drove the near hour or so to the department stores and stopped for lunch in Garden City where my grandmother lived. On other occasions we would have a treat right in one of the department stores such as "The Birdcage" or at a marvelous little place called the "Tiffin Shop" in Garden City. (That was my very favorite - it had a very grownup feel to it - the dining tables had white tablecloths and it was kind of dimly lit - but the food was lovely.) I later learned that "tiffin" means lunch in India.......but I digress.
    Seeing this info about Bonwitt's makes me want to consider an essay on those family shopping sojourns in more "ladylike" times.....not too many of the sales ladies back then were snapping gum, and manners were still observed. Smiles and good times. The art and elegance of Bonwitts still remains in my heart. I loved the artists and art objects they supported,'
    A perennial gift of choice when we needed to find "just the right something" might be one of the beautiful hand beaded arrangements that Mom would then transfer to a valuable piece of Lowestoft for a gift....we wore Polo coats back then - (way before Ralph) and we also had occasion to don our white gloves and hats for church,
    Places like Best and Co., Peck and Peck, B.Altman, Lord and Taylor and of course Macy's were a part of my life then - and wistfully only a couple have survived the decades.
    In the age of Wall Mart and Costco, Target and T.J. Max, I have a secret place in my heart for the old elegance - the special feeling of shopping.
    Shopping was a treat - a necessity as well, but the idea was to make a day of it - and it was in those collections of days that I believe my first eagerness to create art may have been stirred up.
    Thanks for the reminder and the timelines.
    I would love to see a return to the elegant.

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    Replies
    1. I so agree, unfortunately, America has changed dramatically since those days we all remember...and that sort of sophistication will never see the light of day anymore. I still believe when flying, men should wear suits and women dresses, hats and gloves. Need I say more

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  24. I was fortunate enough to work at Bonwit Teller Short Hills in the late 80's and closed the store in 1990. We couldn't believe the chain was actually closing as rumors were swirling that the chain would be resurrected. Of course that never came to be, we all know by now what a bad hand Bonwit's was dealt by all it's "owners", none who bought them for the right reason. I blame Trump for the injustice that started the decline. He wanted the real estate Tiffany's was on, when he couldn't get it he bought the land under Bonwit's ( which they didn't own, they owned the building) and built his ghastly 80's tower which looks so cheap and out-of-date now. The old Bonwit's building was a master design of Art Deco , and Trump promised to save the Deco friezes and entance for the Met, which he didn't, he destroyed the whole thing. I started as a salesperson at Bonwit's when I was only 19 or 20, and then became a manager of almost every dept. there except Cosmetics and Lingerie. I met so many wonderful people there, both co-workers and clients. I learned so much from that store and use many things on an everyday basis to this day! It is so sad to see a wonderful American retailer with such an elegant past meet such a terrible end. When I mention to people that I onced worked there, almost everyone always says how much they miss that store. If I had the money to do it, I'd buy that name and build a masterpiece of architecture right in NYC and start that old company back up again to regain it's former glory, and ban Trump from ever stepping one foot inside! Dreaming is so wonderful! Thank You Bak for a labor of love! Joseph Licata

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    1. I lived in NJ and frequented that BT a lot. I remember it before the renovation, prior to Allied owning the company, when Genescoe owned them. The mall was a beautiful open air mall before the enclosure. BT was not terribly attractive inside, it was this hideous shade of lime green on the first floor, the lower level was all purple, except men's which was orange, and the upper level was black. This is one case where the renovation actually IMPROVED the store. They had a wonderful and elegant men's area and I miss that store terribly.

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    2. Joe Licata: Let's pool our money together and restart BT. Your sentiment is the same as mine. I still have my old BT card, not the white card, but the plate they issued when Genesco owned it. OK, it was not the "butchest" card to cay, as it was lilac with the BT floral arrangement on it, all in pink. Still, it is a beauty of a card. And you are right, the NYC store was a masterpiece (as I also stated). I was not aware that Trump bought the land below the store and that is how he was able to get around it...what a slime-bag and what a horrible building he erected.

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    3. hey ex-buyer, come clean w/ your name! Read the book: "Trump Tower" by Sy Rubin and Jonathan Mandell published by Lyle Stuart. It chronicles the rise of the tower and the destruction of Bonwit's flagship. Even has some pics of it, which I find quite disturbing. You know some company bought the rights to the Bonwit's name and was due to start opening stores including a flagship in NYC when the recession in 2008 derailed it.

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  25. I also remember Bonwit's like an old lover!
    I remember my favorite shoes and beautiful dress with jacket. That was in the 60's and it's still my favorite outfit. What a store it was.

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  26. The site of that epitome of elegance and style -- Bonwit Teller - is now Trump Tower. How sad. I wish my daughter could have known the store as I did.

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  27. Regarding ex-buyer's store list, I grew up in San Francisco and there was never a Bonwit Teller in Palo Alto (or anywhere in Northern California for that matter). Wish there had been.

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  28. cool i love the store musiem

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  29. I have been fortunate to acquire (on eBAY) several pieces by the great modernist artisan Georges Briard, one of the artists 'en residence' over many years supplying Bonwit-Teller with gorgeous and varied pieces of housewares and accessories. The story of the demise of the stores is as much a tragedy as it's esoteric tradition of commitment to cultivating original and meticulously crafted artisan works under their auspices.

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  30. Bonwit Teller in Columbia SC (in RICHLAND MAll) was open for 2 years and was a 'real' BT. I worked there and shopped there. It was only open for 2 years though.

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  31. I'm helping with a documentary on chef Edna Lewis who briefly worked at Bonwit Teller as a window dresser. We're looking for an exterior photo of BT and I wondered if someone here might have a personal photo you would be willing to contribute in exchange for credit and a copy of the finished DVD. You can learn more about Edna Lewis at wikipedia.org. You can reach me by clicking the 1200flasher link above.

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  32. There was no Bonwit's in Garden City...wish there had been!

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  33. In the movie Oliver's Story, there is a scene where Ryan O'neal walks through the main floor of the 5th Avenue store. I believe the film was shot in 1977 a year or so before the store closed. There are also scenes of Candice Bergen in the corporate offices in the store as well as an exterior shot of the Scarsdale store.

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  34. There were two Bonwit Tellers in Boston. The first was in the building depicted on this site. They left town for a year or two, saying they'd be back with a new, much larger store. I worked at the Saks in the Prudential Center at the time. Rumors were swirling that the "new store" being built were just a way to allow Bonwits to make a graceful departure from Boston. The store's finances and future were shaky. However, true to their word, the store came back to Boston in a brand new building across the street (Boylston Street). They had a men's department, which the old store didn't have. The store was on two levels with floor-to-ceiling windows and great merchandise. I still have a few things I bought there. Unfortunately, the store only remained there for 18 months to two years. The building is still there and there is a Talbot's in the old Bonwit's space at 500 Boylston Street.

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  35. I like to research and collect vintage advertisements for the luxury NYC stores like Bonwit Teller, B. Altman, Saks, etc. In 1976, BW's slogan was "You've changed, we've changed too." The year before, the logo was changed. One of the things I loved about the advertisements from the '70s and before was that many of them were hand-drawn (as opposed to photographed). BW's advertisements were hand-drawn into the 1970's (I have a few) and they were very nice.

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  36. The Bonwit Teller in Palm Desert was a very modern, clean lines, elegant store, and it felt very New York City inside, but there was a coldness to it, and snooty sales associates. I still have my Bonwit Teller Card all employees received in order to use their employee discount, I ended up at the new Bullock's with more than the 20 hrs a week they had at BT for me. Bullocks Wilshire took over after BT closed and it brought new warmth to the store, and in the end it became I. Magnin which fit in very nicely. The building became Macy's Mens and Home, and last I heard it was to be torn down for a new larger Nordstrom store that was put on hold in 2008 when the economy went belly up.

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  37. I worked in cosmetics sales at Bonwit Teller, at the Somerset Mall in Troy, Michigan. It was a grand store, indeed. It was torn down and replaced with Nieman Macus store. Thirty years later (and I am only "Forever 21"), I returned to work in cosmetics at Saks Fifth Ave at Somerset Mall, the client had changed, along with the atmosphere. Before, everyone took their time, savor the shopping experience. Now, customers want salespeople to just bag it and move on. Everyone is in such a hurry to get to nowhere fast. Its sad, so grateful to remember how grand shopping could be.

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  38. i still have a very handsome sweater from bonwits - circa early 70's - thanks for the memories

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  39. I remember my mom buying hats at the 5th Ave. store in the early '60's....smashing red velvet and a black felt boater. If the hat was under $25 you got a plain dark purple hat box....over $25 you got the famous white box with violets.
    How cool was that distinction!

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  40. @ Joseph...I clicked your name and discovered you won an art gallery. I was just searching through my favorite website and spotted your post. while you are correct that someone bought the BT name, thus our plans of opening a store have goner out the window. I will visit your galeery next time I am in NJ.

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  41. I remember my first time shopping at Bonwit. At the time it was in it's final location in NY...Trump Tower. I loved shopping there so much that I decided to apply for a job there. I spent some of my happiest days working there from 1988 through its final days in 1990. I miss the violets, and my wonderful boss, Anita.

    Debbie D.

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  42. I lived in NYC in the late 70s and loved Bonwit Teller. In fact, I still have my Bonwit Teller credits card wtih its lovely floral bouquet!

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  43. Bonwit Teller in New York 5th Ave was my first real full time high school job as a computer data processor on the second floor behind the shoe dept. Mildred Custin was the President of the company and Mr. O'Neil was the store manager. I quit because the people were stuck up that worked there. Most of them, not all of them, but most of them. Too expensive ever with my store employee discount. Only lasted a few months there and went to Mays Dept Store in Woodmere. Liked the employees better. FrankLazza@yahoo.com

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  44. My Aunt - Mary Deegan used to work for Bonwits in NYC on the 6th Floor - Ladies Designer. I have fab memories of visiting the store. Pure class. JB

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  45. I have a neighbor that asked to borrow a clutch purse for her son's wedding and I went in my closet to see what clutch purses that I had put away, and I forgot that I had a Bonwit Teller clutch purse. I've had that purse since the 70's and I had it so wrapped up and it still looks like I just bought it yesterday ,so those that own any Bonwit Teller ,don't get rid of it . They are wonderful, elegant purses. Sad the store no longer exist.VR

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  46. I worked at the New York Bonwit Teller in the eighties as a sales-clerk. It was a wonderful experience. The store was always impeccably neat. Every item a customer purchased was wrapped in purple Bonwit Teller tissue paper. I also enjoyed browsing the nearby stores, such as Tiffany’s. The store had a way of making you feel safe, sad to see any department store go, but especially Bonwit Teller, and I really miss my employee discount card.

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  47. I took worked at Bonwit's 5th Ave store until its closing in 1990. Things I learned from some of the old time managers sent me on my way to a successful retail career of almost 20 years. I still have many purchases from my time there and memories of some wonderful friends. If ever a 5th Ave store opened again I would surely have to switch careers back to retail just to be there again!

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  48. Their shopping bags were the prettiest--beautiful violets against a white background. I wish I had saved one from my shopping days during the 50s in Chicago.

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  49. No one has mentioned the Bonwit's in Beverly Hills...they took over the old W. & J. Sloane building...painted it a chic powder blue that played very well with the violet awnings. That store had a style all its own...so different from Sak's and Magnin's (N-M hadn't come to Beverly Hills in 1972). Bonwit's Beverly Hills store had a Fauchon boutique and, on the fifth floor, a Hamburger Hamlet restaurant. I ate there so many times when I was at Immaculate Heart in nearby Hollywood. They were the first restaurant in California to serve Haagen-Das ice cream (only three flavors, coffee, chocolate and vanilla). Such a wonderful store, and, as everyone else has said, so sad to see it go!

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  50. I still haves a sweater I got at bonwits - with the bonwit label - when I lokk at it and wear it it seems like yesterday - I worked in ny the 70's and the gone but not forgotten retailers were great - lou caruso

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