Wendy "The Queen" Krimins
by susanna negovan
Krimins wears a Fabiola Arias dress, a Boucheron watch, a Roberto Coin bangle, and Marina B rings and bracelet. On her desk: handbags by Tom Ford, Chanel, and Jason Wu
|“Wendy-as-queen” mementos, including a tiara, have pride of place in Krimins’s office|
|Sketches by Manolo Blahnik are among the souvenirs Krimins treasures|
Wendy Krimins doesn’t remember when she was first bestowed with the nickname “The Queen,” but it certainly fits—from her supreme elegance (she’s always swathed in enviable couture) to the 300 employees she oversees in her role as vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue, Krimins is a woman in charge.
But despite her penchant for Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Brunello Cucinelli, Fendi, and Tom Ford, she could more aptly be described as a people’s queen. She hosts daily 9:30 AM all-staff meetings (“I try to get everybody excited.”) and jumps into whatever needs doing in any department—whether it’s fine apparel, accessories, or even one of the two on-site restaurants (“I can ring any sale; I can unpack a truck,” she says).
This month Krimins is geared up for the debut of two new sections at the store that will have holiday shoppers atwitter: an exclusive-to-Neiman-Marcus Tom Ford for women shop, and the launch of a redesigned Chanel shop that will have sweeping views of Michigan Avenue from the second floor.
Beyond the long days spent overseeing merchandise, managing the store’s sales and staff, and interacting with clientele—this job has perks: meeting designers like Donna Karan, Manolo Blahnik, Diane von Furstenberg, and Christian Louboutin when they make store appearances; being the first to see new collections; and having one of the store’s personal shoppers on hand to help choose clothes for events (a Chado Ralph Rucci dress in her office was recently acquired for an event honoring the designer held by the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum)—not to mention having her makeup done by the store’s talented team of artists.
Krimins, a fashion devotee far beyond your typical retailer, won’t deny that her passion borders on obsessive: “I actually write down what I wear in a journal,” she says, adding that she has four large closets and three rolling racks at home filled with clothing, and that’s with cleaning out her closets regularly.
Her love of fashion is obvious in her glamorous office on the third floor of the store at 737 North Michigan Avenue, with its collectibles amassed over the last six years in her post (and 12 years with the company). She points to two stacks of autographed Rizzoli New York and Assouline books by well-known names in fashion, including Carolina Herrera, candy maven Dylan Lauren, and Manolo Blahnik.
A wall of shelves holds tongue-in-cheek gifts from friends and staff, including tiaras, a Christian Louboutin for Barbie miniature shoe collection, and her favorite: a mock portrait of herself as a queen wearing a gold tiara by artist Jules Burt, which was commissioned by her former staff at the Tampa Bay Neiman Marcus. (On the back, the artist inscribed “Stay Sassy!”) Not to be outdone, one year for Christmas her Chicago staff gave her a mock Michigan Avenue magazine cover with her face pasted on the head of the model—tiara and all—and a set of Wendy-as-queen postage stamps.
Krimins, beloved by her staff for her sense of humor, is democratic in her approach to her daily work, walking the sales floors every day, talking to customers, and making sure that her kingdom operates smoothly.
“There was a time when stores like ours [were perceived as] being exclusive,” says Krimins. “I think I’ve succeeded in making it a friendlier [place to shop].”
photography by anthony tahlier