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Bergdorf Goodman Pays Homage to the '70s in New Campaign with Denée Benton

Bergdorf Goodman Pays Homage to the '70s in New Campaign with Denée Benton Image
  • Posted on 12th Jun, 2022 17:33 PM

The Gilded Age actress speaks to BAZAAR.com about starring in the luxury department store's fashion film and embracing the empowered freedom of the 1970s.

Fashion royalty, the unapologetic freedom of the 1970s, and today's hot Hollywood talent come together in Bergdorf Goodman's new campaign, The Expressionists.

In an homage to the epoch and to the creatives who came from it, the luxury department store created a short film directed by Bergdorf's own Elle Strauss and featuring The Gilded Age's Denée Benton; House of Slay founders Ezra J. William, Laura Kim, and Prabal Gurung; and multidisciplinary artist Christina Kruse. There is dancing in roller skates under disco balls, loud makeup, flashy couture, platform heels, and that unironic joyful energy that just reassures our millennial belief that the '70s were, indeed, the sweetest time to be alive. But just when we start to get too nostalgic, Benton, in a lime green Bottega Veneta minidress, rolls out of the pink-lit club set inside Bergdorf and into the gleaming white halls of the store, where the spring/summer 2022 era begins.

Evgeny Popov

Filming her first fashion collaboration was a "teenage dream" for Benton, she tells BAZAAR.com. "I got to roller skate around the quintessential New York City department store in expertly crafted designer clothes while dancing to disco music. I was obsessed with rom-coms as a kid, and this was like the perfect movie montage shopping scene—but in this moment, it was actually my life. I'm still pinching myself," she says.

Evgeny Popov

The Gilded Age, the historical HBO series based in 1882 New York, which Benton stars in, has earned praise not only because we're all suckers for a period piece, but because of its lavish, enviable wardrobe: new money versus old money, Downton Abbey meets the Met Gala.

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Benton describes it as a "fashion masterpiece" made possible by costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone (who created more than 5,000 costumes for the show) and says it reminds her of "decadent old New York, which to me, is synonymous with the way that Bergdorf Goodman also represents the classically timeless New York fashion experience."

Benton feels quite at home in front of the camera, but she says she was always intimidated by and never felt "cool enough" for the fashion world—that is until she got to skate around Manhattan's most prestigious store. "This opportunity blows all that imposter syndrome right out the window and gave me a chance to truly geek out on all of this wearable art," she says. "I have such respect for the craftsmanship and visual art that is fashion and the way it shapes the culture."

Evgeny Popov

Bergdorf's pop-of-color celebration of the '70s is not all about the retro-chic—though who can resist?—but about the explosion of liberty in art, society, and politics that occurred during that period, and how that was translated by designers into fashion. Political ideologies and racial divides were challenged, women and the LGBTQ community found their voices, the Vietnam War turned the world on its head, and freedom of speech finally took center stage.

"When I think of the '70s, I think of a return in women claiming the political power in looking the way we want to, especially Black women," Benton says. "We evolved from the respectability politics of the 1960s and led the charge of Black queer feminist liberation movements, which to me conjures up images of no bras, bright colors, big Afros, body hair if we want to—Betty Davis saying yes to all of her power. It was us finding out what sexy meant for our own gaze, not just the male gaze, not just the white gaze, but how do I feel sexy as me for me? I definitely am feeling a return to that being what leads everyday fashion in a way that excites me."

Evgeny Popov

This upcoming season, the new Bergdorf Goodman darling is looking to embrace that sense of freedom in her style.

"I am a sucker for a simple bright-colored slip maxi dress and some slip-on sandals or mules—nothing makes me feel sexier and freer and in my body," she tells BAZAAR. "Christopher John Rogers has all of my heart eyes (😍) right now. I tend to lean toward comfort that shows off my curves, and his designs do that in the most vibrant and elevated way. He turns what could be a simple maxi dress into an entire event or a flowy pants set into a brilliantly colored showstopper."

We see a fashion starlet coming.

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