Catherine Bloom’s Room
July 15, 2014
Secret Sharer. That’s how The New York Times T Magazine headlined an admiring profile of Neiman Marcus “personal shopper extraordinaire” Catherine Bloom back in 2012. Suffice it to say, the secret is out.
In truth, Bloom and the service she provides to customers at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills were never meant to be a secret. A slim blonde who favors a uniform of black pants, black tee, and designer jacket (on this day, Saint Laurent), she dismisses the behind-the-velvet ropes image as nonsense: “We do work a lot by appointment; people are busy so it’s often easier to schedule our lives. But people wander in all the time. Our objective is to help the client, so we try never to be too busy. And if we are, we juggle.” By “we,” Bloom means her staff of five. One manages the office. Two handle Option 7s, the NM code for transferring items between stores or NeimanMarcus.com. Two more help with merchandise loans, dressing mannequins and displays, and photographing items to text or email to clients. “I couldn’t do it otherwise,” says Bloom. “We’re a very well-choreographed team.”
Access to Bloom’s world is through a glass door—marked Personal Shopper—just off the Valentino boutique on the store’s second floor. Never mind that her Instagram images of Alaïa dresses and inspiring architecture bear the hashtag #bloomsroom. #bloomssuite would be more accurate. The entry holds a desk, a plush sofa, a long table, and more fabulous designer clothes than the average boutique. Behind it are three dressing rooms. The middle serves as Bloom’s office, where papers, notebooks, iPad, and laptop coexist happily with rolling racks, handbags, shoes, jewelry, and a couture-decked dress form.
Bloom is not technically a Neiman Marcus buyer. Yet she has her own open-to-buy budget, and each season joins the contingent of NM merchants and executives at the runway shows in Milan, Paris, and New York. “I’m just looking for things that spark my interest,” she explains, “things that could work for the lifestyles of my clients. I’m usually thinking of people I know and what they would like, but then I’ll see an amazing clutch or extraordinary lace dress that is so special I know it will find a home with someone.”
When asked about her go-to designers, Bloom demurs— until her enthusiasm takes over and names pour out in a rush: Nina Ricci, Givenchy, Lanvin, Gucci, Tom Ford, Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham, Cucinelli, Chanel… All equally amazing, beautiful, relevant.
On the subject of customers Bloom remains utterly discreet. (It’s part of the NM handbook.) Many are doubtlessly much like her—well-tended and well-toned, radiating California sunshine even when wearing all black. Certainly more than a few have walked a red carpet. Bloom says her mission is to make busy lives easier. “There’s so much out there now. Everyone is being bombarded with choices. When you don’t have time to dig through it all yourself, it’s wonderful to have my eyes looking out for you. Locating that special piece. Finding the right size. Helping you put it together. Who doesn’t want that?”