I grew up in a Wisconsin suburb that was very raw—we were basically the only home in the neighborhood. My brother and I felt like natives. We were so tied into the natural world there. We named the trees around us because there was something significant about each of them, like one tree on our property that we called the Penny Tree because it had round leaves, and when the wind blew they sounded like coins. I was particularly tuned in to living on the land.
I’m endlessly impressed with what people create, but there is truly no greater and more beautiful creator than nature itself. I love how we, as humans, put our hands on it, and this endless exploration of nature became a recurring thing for me. In my years as a window director, pretty much any natural material was fair game: shells, pinecones, branches. I can’t tell you how many windows I’ve done that involved branches: branches that became hair and grew up to the ceiling; branches that we sprayed peacock blue, and instead of leaves they grew peacock feathers; or laurel branches with these very beautiful, curvaceous shapes.
This obsession seeps into the way I dress, too. I love animal prints and feathers. I was recently at my favorite vintage supplier looking for something to wear for my birthday, and the only thing my eyes could focus on in the room were all these feathers. I’m wearing a feather coat with a hat that’s basically a couple of bird wings with a nest on it.
There’s a very fine line between my private and my work life, so a lot of the things I collect are for myself, but they can also be used in a Bergdorf Goodman visual display. I once bought a bag of old hat feathers at a flea market because they were so rare. We used them with mannequins for the windows, and I asked for them back. I tracked them closely. I didn’t just casually give them out, but things do sometimes go missing. The New York Times once asked to photograph me with something I’d never let go of. My answer: a black taxidermy crow. They came to shoot it, but of course the bird had flown the coop and no one could find it—like I said, there’s almost no line between my work and life.
I also collect vintage birds and I had a taxidermy peacock at one point. A few years ago, I was in a pinch finding a costume for a Halloween party at Lanvin, and ended up dressing up as Tippi Hedren in The Birds. I sewed fake birds from a display onto a green suit. At the end of the evening, we all decamped over to The Carlyle, but I lost my friends. I was wandering around in this outfit, so I decided to act a little crazy. I walked up to these women at the bar and sinisterly asked, “Have you seen my husband?” I thought that was pretty funny.
The author is the senior vice president of the fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman. A new in-store shop of her favorite things, called Linda’s at Bergdorf Goodman, opened this month.