Barneys Staff Say Final Days Feel "Like Our Parents Got Divorced"

Barneys Staff Say Final Days Feel Like Our Parents Got Divorced - rambling-H 2019

Following the high-end department store chain's filing for bankruptcy, staff mournfully decamp to Neiman Marcus, Saks and Rodeo Drive: "We were a family."

When Barneys says everything must go, it isn't just talking about the merchandise.

The staff of the soon-shuttering high-end department store chain's Beverly Hills branch — where Beyoncé, David Beckham, Madonna and many more shopped — are scattering to the winds. 

Personal shopper to the stars Michelle Goodman can now be found a few blocks west at Neiman Marcus, alongside jewelry sales associate Lisa Lenoff and Elizabeth Levin, the latter of whom has started work in the women’s designer department. “There’s so much to learn. Neiman’s is five times bigger than Barneys. The designers are coming here to help. They’re even bringing their models to showcase their fashions.”

Frank Machado, a shoe salesman, is also headed to Neiman Marcus. “Barneys was truly a wonderful chapter in my life. I’m so thankful to my clientele for always making it feel like my second home.”

Saks Fifth Avenue has hired Jonathan Pascual and Richard Valenciano to join their shoe department. Also at Saks, sales associate Mitra Hedayatian can be found in the women’s designer department. Some sales people have headed over to Rodeo Drive where Nick LaSure is stationed at Bottega Veneta, Chelle Kearney at Gucci and Kevin Harris at Saint Laurent, along with jewelry sales person Robyn Buddie.

A-list gems designer Irene Neuwirth, who started out showcasing her jewelry at Barneys, has snapped up two of Barneys' prime jewelry sales people, Jennifer Wasser and Joan Markman. “I’m so happy to be here. It’s a great opportunity for me,” says Markman. Another well-regarded personal shopper, Jennie Baek, has yet to make up her mind between Saks and Neiman Marcus.

Group manager of the women’s areas, Sharon Taylor, who will be staying until the end, has been instrumental in helping her fellow sales associates find work elsewhere. Taylor has been with Barneys since the opening of the Beverly Hills store in 1994. “Because of the experience and expertise our sales associates received from working at Barneys, they are able to offer exceptional customer service. They are all sought-after because of their strong following and client lists, which include the crème-de-la-crème. The essence of Barneys was, we all were a family; we all cared for and supported each other. It feels like our parents just got divorced and we are all going our separate ways.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.