About six months ago, this past March, I did something that almost no New Yorker ever wants to do. I voluntarily waited in line. Not just any line, and not just any time of day – a loooong line outside in the freezing cold starting at 5:30AM in the middle of New York City, one that wrapped around outside of the Henri Bendel Flagship Store on 5th Avenue. It was actually dark, or dusk – as captured by the photo below – when I arrived. And, in spite of the hour and the fact is was bitterly cold out, I was still not the first there. So what crazy thing did we all have in common? We were all part of the Open See, a designer casting call that Henri Bendel holds twice annually for new and up-and-coming designers.
It is actually a very Democratic process in the sense that (unlike other things in New York where you often have to have to be connected in some way) any designer can attend the Open See. The trick is to get in line early and by 9AM they start letting the line of designers thaw out by coming inside to meet with their buyers, all hoping for an opportunity to come sell their goods in the incredible 5th Avenue Flagship Store via a trunk show, or even better, have the line picked up by the Henri Bendel.
If you are not familiar with Henri Bendel – get familiar here. Their iconic Flagship Boutique on 5th Avenue is one big, sparkling mecca of accessories. They sell pretty much anything a girl could think to put on her body or carry – from jewelry to sunglasses, to purses and hats and other unique gifts. They are known for supporting and scouting out new design talent. Here is a photo of me, trying to stay warm, holding my egg full of jewelry and wearing a vintage fox fur:
My meeting with their buyers, who were very friendly, was an extremely fast, as is everyone’s – they are trying to see hundreds of people in a short amount of time. I had about three to five mintes to lay out my samples, tell my story and answer any questions they had. At the end of it I was thrilled to be offered a trunk show with them – which is happening this September 26th – 29th, a Thursday – Sunday (see dates and hours at right). Candy Shop Vintage was named one of just five “Casting Call Favorites” by the Henri Bendel team. So, come Thursday, September 26th you can find me, the designer behind the Candy Shop Collection, selling my treats for four days in their Flagship store!
If you are a designer and want more info. on the Open See, go here – the next one is coming up this October 25th! If I could offer a few pieces of advice, I would suggest getting there as early as you can, dressing warmly, and come very prepared to sell – i.e. with plenty of inventory (they are not looking for one off designs) and with a clear sense of your brand and its story, compressed into a minute or two. And, have fun – hopefully you’ll only get to do this once!
– Deirdre Zahl, designer & owner, Candy Shop Vintage