item 2 - Barbara D'Arcy interview, 1986 November 5

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Barbara D'Arcy interview, 1986 November 5


  • 1986 November 5 (Creation)

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MPEG file: 68.3 MiB. 49 minutes, 43 seconds. Original media format: Cassette.

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Biographical history

Barbara D'Arcy worked at Bloomingdale's from 1958 to 1995. She started as a fabric buyer, then designed model rooms for the furniture department from 1958-1973, then became the head of store design in 1973 and was a merchandising executive by 1975. In addition to the model rooms, D'Arcy is known for her redesign of the store interior in 1979, still intact on the first floor. D'Arcy retired in 1995 after almost 40 years with the Bloomingdale's. D'Arcy's rooms were like staged vignettes, displaying the most fashionable styles of interior decoration. D'Arcy traveled across the globe for inspiration and was among the first Americans to visit the People's Republic of China after relations normalized after 1972. While Bloomingdale's was already known for its home furnishings, it was D'Arcy that elevated the department store's reputation to that of an industry leader in fashionable interiors. D'Arcy was amonf the first honorees to be inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 1985.

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Biographical history

Estelle Ellis was born on November 12, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Hunter College in 1940, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Journalism, Ellis began a career in publishing. Ellis was crucial in the founding of Seventeen magazine in 1943, assisting Helen Valentine with design and advertising for the magazine. In 1958, Ellis founded Business Image, Incorporated, a creative marketing firm that stressed the importance of market and product positioning. Her company worked primarily with Condé Nast publications but other businesses, such as Yves Saint-Laurent Fragrances, Evan-Picone, AT&T, and Scoville, hired Business Image as well.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, Ellis began working with the Fashion Institute of Technology, creating programs and fundraising campaigns to help with financial support. During the 1990s, Ellis focused on writing, co-authoring At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live With and Care for Their Libraries (1995), At Home with Art: How Art Lovers Live With and Care for Their Treasures (1999), and The Booklover's Repair Kit: First Aid for Home Libraries (2000). Estelle Ellis passed away on July 12, 2012.

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This interview discusses Barbara D'Arcy's experiences working at Bloomingdale's as the designer of the model rooms from 1958 to 1973. A large part of the conversation focuses on D'Arcy's professional relationship with Marvin Traub, Chief Excecutive of Bloomingdale's and his role in the development of the aesthetic identity of Bloomingdale's. D'Arcy also discusses her transition from model room designer to her role as head of store design.

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The tape has deteriorated and requires full volume for voices to be audible.


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          Archivist's note

          This was originally part of a larger recording that includes the Gordon Cooke interview

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