Henri Bendel

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Henri Bendel, Inc.
Founded1895; 128 years ago (1895)
FounderHenri Willis Bendel
DefunctJanuary 28, 2019 (2019-01-28)[1]
712 Fifth Avenue
New York City
United States
Number of locations
29 stores (Jan 2015)[2]
Area served
United States
ProductsWomen's clothing
ParentL Brands
WebsiteArchived official website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)

Henri Bendel, Inc. (pronounced BEN-del), established in 1895,[3] was a women's department store based in New York City which in its later history sold women's handbags, jewelry, luxury fashion accessories, home fragrances and gifts.[4] Its New York City store was located at 10 West 57th street. In 1985, when purchased by Limited, the new owner moved the store to 712 Fifth Avenue.[5]

Henri Bendel was the first retailer to have its own fragrance, to offer in-store makeovers, and to stage its own fashion show.[6] The retailer is credited with developing the concession, or shop-within-a-shop merchandising concept that is in use in some department stores today.[7] In the Cole Porter song from 1934 "You're the Top" made famous by Ethel Merman, Porter incorporates the line "You're a Bendel Bonnet / a Shakespeare Sonnet", immortalising the brand.

In September 2018, it was announced that the owner, L Brands would close all 23 stores and end the brand. In January 2019, its physical stores and website were closed.[1]

History and influence[edit]

Henri Willis Bendel was born in Louisiana in 1868 and moved to New York to work as a milliner.[3] He opened his first shop, in Greenwich Village, in 1895.[8] In 1907, he began branding the brown-and-white striped boxes that are still identified with the company.[8] In 1913, Henri Bendel was the first retailer to sell Coco Chanel designs in the U.S.[3]

After Bendel's death in 1936,[9] his nephew became the store's president and served until his retirement in 1954.[10] Bendel's nephew, who later founded Belgian Shoes, died in 1997.[10]

Geraldine Stutz was president of Henri Bendel from 1957 to 1986.[7] Stutz had "a legendary eye for discovering the newest designers and using them first," including Perry Ellis, Jean Muir, Sonia Rykiel, Carlos Falchi, Mary McFadden, and Ralph Lauren.[7] In 1958, Stutz turned the store's main sales floor into a "U-shaped 'Street of Shops,'" which some consider the forerunner of today's shop-within-a-shop merchandising displays.[7]

During the 1960s, Andy Warhol was an in-house illustrator.[3] Beginning in 1994, Izak Zenou's illustrations have appeared on Henri Bendel ads and promotional materials.[3]

In recent years, the retailer had aimed to grow from an "iconic New York brand" into "a nationally recognized accessories company."[11] Beginning in 2008, the brand expanded beyond the New York store to become a national chain with 28 stores (in addition to the NYC flagship) across the U.S.[12] In 2009, Henri Bendel stopped selling apparel.[12] In 2014, the New York flagship store and website began selling only Henri Bendel-branded handbags, jewelry, fashion accessories and home fragrances, following the model set at its other stores.[11]

Henri Bendel was named Retailer of the Year in 2010 at the Accessories Council Excellence Awards.[13]

In September 2018, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported that Henri Bendel announced the closing of its 23 stores and ending of its brand after 123 years in business. Owner L Brands said the move was part of efforts to improve profitability and focus on brands like Victoria's Secret.[14]

On January 19, 2019, all Henri Bendel stores were closed and its website was shuttered on January 28, 2019.[1]

Flagship store[edit]

714 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan

From 1985 until its closing in 2018, the flagship store on Fifth Avenue was located in two adjacent buildings, the Rizzoli Building and Coty Building, as well as a new five-story building.[15] During renovation of the Coty building, 276 "masterwork" panes of glass commissioned from René Lalique in 1912 were restored.[15] The glass filled three large windows that comprised the front of the second, third, and fourth floors of the Henri Bendel store.[15] The building had received landmark status from the city's Landmark Preservation Commission in 1985.[16]

Of the building, The New York Times' architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote: "For this mix of new architecture and old, skillfully integrated, holds more promise for the revival of Fifth Avenue than anything that has happened to that troubled boulevard in the last decade."[17]

For more than 100 years, Henri Bendel's flagship and only store was located at 10 West 57th Street. There is where the famously sumptuous windows, brown canopy and brown/white shopping bags graced the city. The window artist, Robert Rufino changed the theatrically designed scenes every Wednesday evening, every week. The doorman of the 1970s until his passing in 1982, "Buster" personally greeted each guest with a warm smile. His welcomes were typically accompanied with the guest's name since he had an uncanny memory. He was so loved that Henri Bendel's sold a stuffed doll in the liking of Buster which always sold out. Until 1985, the 10 West 57th Street store retained its manually operated elevators.


After Bendel's nephew, also named Henri Bendel, retired from the company in 1954, the Bendel family sold the store to a group of investors.[10] In 1980, Henri Bendel president Geraldine Stutz purchased the store with a group of investors from Genesco Inc., a retailing/apparel company that had owned Bonwit Teller and other stores.[18]

In 1985, L Brands acquired the Henri Bendel brand.[3] Formerly Limited Brands, the Columbus, Ohio-based company is also the parent of Victoria's Secret, PINK, Bath & Body Works, and La Senza, and operates 2,917 company-owned specialty stores in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Friedman, Vanessa (2019-01-16). "New York's Lost Department Stores". New York Times. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  2. ^ Brands 2010 Annual Report
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Story of Henri Bendel". Henribendel.com. Henri Bendel. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. ^ Born, Pete (16 April 2014). "Henri Bendel Cutting Ties With Third-Party Vendors". Women's Wear Daily. Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Stores". Henribendel.com. Henri Bendel. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  6. ^ "Henri Bendel Comes To Gilt!". Gilt. Gilt. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Wilson, Eric (9 April 2005). "Geraldine Stutz Dies at 80; Headed Bendel for 29 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  8. ^ a b Hennessey, Rachel (29 October 2014). "Henri Bendel Launches Premium Handbag Collection". ForbesLife. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  9. ^ Gray, Christopher (30 October 2005). "Once, Long, Long Ago, It Was the City's Rue de la Paix". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  10. ^ a b c McQuiston, John T. (22 September 1997). "Henri Bendel, 89, Head of Store And Founder of Belgian Shoes". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Interview: Pina Ferlisi". Exposed Zippers. Exposed Zippers. 25 September 2014. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  12. ^ a b Mau, Dhani. "How Henri Bendel's Creative Director is Keeping the Century-Old Brand New". Fashionista. No. 13 November 2014. Fashionista. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Henri Bendel Makes Changes to Grow Accessories". Accessories Magazine. Accessories Magazine. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  14. ^ Safdar, Khadeeja (2018-09-13). "Henri Bendel to Close After 123 Years". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  15. ^ a b c "A Belle of Fifth Avenue Returns, Freshened Up". The New York Times. 28 February 1991. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  16. ^ NYC.gov, Landmarks Preservation Commission January 29, 1985, Designation List 175, LP-1534
  17. ^ Goldberger, Paul (10 March 1991). "Architecture View: A Shot of Adrenaline for Fifth Avenue". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  18. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. "The Limited Acquires Henri Bendel". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  19. ^ Mallett, Kent (30 January 2015). "L Brands expands; 600 jobs expected". Newark Advocate. Newark Advocate. Retrieved 19 February 2015.

External links[edit]