Fashion documentaries seem all the rage. We've seen a slew in recent years, from bio-docs on legendary editor Diana Vreeland and designer Valentino to businessy profiles like "In Vogue" and "The September Issue," both tracking Vogue editors.
The best of these ("September," a true crossover hit, and "Vreeland") balance the glitz with the trade-offs it takes to live and work so stylishly.
"Scatter My Ashes" skitters well short of crossover-hit status, preferring to polish the marble of the block-long Bergdorf Goodman store rather than look past it. Still, for die-hards, peeking into back halls and hearing the dish will satisfy.
And what dish. Sifting through 175 interviews -- Diane von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, Susan Lucci among them -- director Michael Miele provides a comprehensive history of Manhattan's ritziest department store. As Joan Rivers says, "It's such a part of New Yawk."
The film is like shopping at Bergdorf's -- at times you're a bit lost. We see young designers wooing (or trying to woo) fashion director Linda Fargo. We hear of outlandish shopping sprees (Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon). Trouble is, everyone speaks so reverentially.
The closest we get to candor is Betty Halbreich, a personal shopper with taste as sharp as her tongue. Isaac Mizrahi recalls Halbreich once telling a customer, "That's terrible, but buy it, because it's not as terrible as what you came in wearing." With lines like that, where's her reality show?
Most intriguing are segments revealing the months-long planning and construction of the famed holiday windows. Sprinkled throughout, they form a much-needed dramatic through-line, as the grand unveiling day nears, and window designer David Hoey and his team descend into "full Christmas panic." Hoey is compelling, as are his citywide trips to find the artisans and ephemera to help transform his windows into works of art.
This film may not be quite the revelation one would hope for, but Hoey's windows sure are.
PLOT Behind the scenes at Manhattan's ritziest department store.
RATING PG-13 (mild sexuality)
BOTTOM LINE A wandering documentary, but glam enough to entertain the fashionistas.