They were standing out in the street, waiting for Garfinckel's doors to open, just like the day of a big sale. Only this was better than a sale. It was Garfinckel's 75th birthday party for 1,200 favorite customers and friends.
There were party balloons and dancing. There was a raw bar and squid and scallops on skewers in the designer shoe department, steak tartar among the minks, cocktails in the Chanel and Chloe boutiques.
Scooter Miller remembered how, 39 years ago, she and her husband, Texas lobbyist Dale Miller, lived at the Mayflower. She was pregnant at the time and for her mile-long walk each day took a round trip to Julius Garfinckel & Co.
Ginette Gluckherst, a combustion engineering consultant, still remembered meeting Pat Nixon, wife of the then vice president, while they were both shopping on the store's third floor. If she couldn't find everything she wanted in the store then, "I have no trouble finding everything I need here now," she said.
Garfinckel's staff has been scouting for six months in vaults, closets and attics of customers to find clothes to celebrate the 75th-year history of the store. The result was a fashion show of styles from 1905 to the present including designs by Adrian, Irene, Hattie Carnegie, Norman Norell and Pauline Trigere. The show was cheered for its familiar designs, particularly the small-waisted, full-skirted new look styles of the late 1940s and the miniskirts of the 1960s, as well as the spirited presentation by the dancers and models.
"Seventy-five years is a long time to do anything," said D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. "And it is a long time to stay doing anything and Garfinckel's has done it well."