VMSD - February 2018 - 56
Leigh Ann Tischler
M i Ch ae l st e e l e P h o t o g raP h Y, J e r se Y C itY, N.J .
Bloomingdale's director of windows recounts an eventful 25-year career in visual
merchandising - and it all began as a 12-year-old staring at a store ceiling.
Do you remember your
introduction to visual?
I remember it clearly. I was 12 years old, shopping
at a Macy's store in Paramus, N.J. It was the juniors
department, a huge round room with a rotunda
ceiling. I thought, 'Wow, this must be a really cool
job. Who builds all of these displays?'
And a career was born?
Not right away. I graduated from college with a
degree in painting and no idea what to do next. You
don't start selling your artwork right away.
Then visual came calling?
I did the calling. I answered an ad for a display
person at that same Macy's store - in that same
Was it what you expected?
It was grueling. We were doing holiday, I had to
make these huge arrangements of pheasant feathers, pine cones and greenery. It was 14 hours a day
that turned, literally, into 14 back-breaking months.
I got a nine-month freelance job working on a new
Macy's store in Arlington, Va. I worked with William Herbst, who was renovations coordinator [at
A great mentor.
Yes. I learned a lot. I ordered mannequins, reviewed
documents, dealt with special lighting, special fixtures, wallcoverings. I had never cared about a hat
riser or countertop fixture before then. But, after a
few years, Macy's stopped building new stores or
renovating older ones, so I went my merry way.
So goodbye Macy's, hello ... ?
I went to Bloomingdale's for three years, as VM for
cosmetics and fashion accessories. Then to Sony.
They wanted to open high-concept stores around
A fun experience?
An amazing few years. We opened the Metreon
center, an entertainment mall in San Francisco,
and remodeled Sony Plaza in New York, which had
six windows on Madison Avenue, so I was finally
working on windows. Christine Belich, who was
executive creative director, and I would go to lunch
and draw things up on the backs of napkins.
But later, not so much fun?
It got very corporate and a lot of the rules changed.
Christine left, Sony moved everyone to San Diego.
I saw the writing on the wall. They were going to
close the Sony store and Sony Plaza.
So back to Bloomingdale's?
Yes, in 2011 I landed at Bloomingdale's, as men's
and kids' interior visual manager. Then, in 2015,
Harry Medina retired as window director. I said,
that's the job I've always wanted: a dream job. And
I continued to have amazing mentors, like Jack
Hruska and John Klimkowski. I feel like a really
blessed person. Not a lot of people can say that.
for some amazing
people. Do you
recall a particularly
important piece of
Toward the end of the Arlington,
Va., project, William Herbst said,
'You've got to let go now. You've
been doing this for eight months.
The visual managers and regionals are now going to interpret your
vision their way.'
Those words have helped me so. I
have a fantastic team, so now I'm
not insulted when they don't like
my idea, or they turn my idea into
something more amazing.
Difficult for an
Yes, artists are very singular -
'Nobody's going to tell me how to
do my work.' If this were my personal artwork, I wouldn't let anybody change it.
M atthe w C ar ase lla, Ne w Yor k
Interview by Steve Kaufman
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - February 2018
Vmsd - February 2018
From the Editor
Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
Peace. Joy. Windows
Life on the Road
VMSD - February 2018 - BB1
VMSD - February 2018 - BB2
VMSD - February 2018 - Vmsd - February 2018
VMSD - February 2018 - Cover2
VMSD - February 2018 - 1
VMSD - February 2018 - Contents
VMSD - February 2018 - 3
VMSD - February 2018 - From the Editor
VMSD - February 2018 - 5
VMSD - February 2018 - Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
VMSD - February 2018 - 7
VMSD - February 2018 - The Goods
VMSD - February 2018 - 9
VMSD - February 2018 - 10
VMSD - February 2018 - 11
VMSD - February 2018 - 12
VMSD - February 2018 - 13
VMSD - February 2018 - 14
VMSD - February 2018 - 15
VMSD - February 2018 - Next Store
VMSD - February 2018 - 17
VMSD - February 2018 - 18
VMSD - February 2018 - 19
VMSD - February 2018 - Peace. Joy. Windows
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VMSD - February 2018 - 35
VMSD - February 2018 - Life on the Road
VMSD - February 2018 - 37
VMSD - February 2018 - 38
VMSD - February 2018 - 39
VMSD - February 2018 - Rapid Innovation
VMSD - February 2018 - 41
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VMSD - February 2018 - 43
VMSD - February 2018 - Speaking Intimately
VMSD - February 2018 - 45
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VMSD - February 2018 - Showroom
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VMSD - February 2018 - Checking Out
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VMSD - February 2018 - Cover3
VMSD - February 2018 - Cover4