T

his past weekend in Union Square, San Francisco, the nation’s largest department store concluded its annual Flower Show. The show’s 61-year history of themes reads like a cultural commentary of the times (1951: Mobilize for Defense; 1963: Wizard of Oz; 1970: The Age of Aquarius). In the 1990s, global themes began to emerge with titles such as Les Fleurs du Printemps in 1990, Salute to the Netherlands in 1993, leading up to this year’s theme, “Imagine India,” celebrating the Subcontinent’s timeless style and vibrant pop culture.

The theme for the show was enhanced in no small part by desi@macy’s, a cultural affinity group founded earlier this year by three Macy’s employees. The group, which taught the store’s visual department staff how to wrap saris for mannequin displays and arranged dance performances, helped plan and execute the event.

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The cosmetics floor gets a desi look.

According to Seema Srivastava, an associate planner at Macy’s and one of desi@macy’s co-founders, the national retail department store supports a number of employee resource groups. Srivastava says that she and her co-founders Shuchi Mehta and Shraddha Mudvari, both assistant planners at Macy’s, “felt the growing South Asian employee and customer base at Macy’s necessitated the creation of a desi affinity group, which would embody the culture of the entire Indian Subcontinent.”

Macy’s media relations spokesperson and group member Puja Sabharwal adds that desi@macy’s is working on a national presence in the fashion and home retailer’s various regional divisions. “Right now we are just in San Francisco at our Macy’s West Divisional offices here. We also have a good amount of our members from Macys.com in San Francisco (there are a lot of desis working for Macys.com) … our hope is to have our group in all divisions someday, and there already seems to be support for that.”

The group will continue to build and promote relationships with South Asian suppliers and designers, partner with desi community organizations on behalf of Macy’s and provide advisement and consulting for Macy’s on cultural events.

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Krsna Mehta, Design Director at the ZEBA World in-store shop

Sabharwal spoke to about “Imagine India,” the highlight of desi@macy’s recent group activities.

How did you feel when you learned of this year’s theme for the show?
I was so thrilled and proud that Macy’s wanted to pay tribute to India for this year’s Flower Show … Macy’s recognizes what a compelling place India is.

Give us an idea of what went into setting up the store for this event. How long did the transformation take, and who was involved?
Each year Macy’s visual department works tirelessly on every detail of Flower Show—from coming up with the theme and artistic direction to installing all plant material and designing each of the individual ledges themselves. They understand how to create a more exciting and dramatic floral statement.

What has been the response from shoppers and the public to the show?
Everyone has been very supportive. Just this morning I had a friend call me and say how she enjoyed her “very festive” shopping experience over the weekend and that the store never looked more beautiful.

What is your favorite part of the show?
Honestly, everything is pretty spectacular. If I had to choose from my personal favorites though, it would be the ZEBA home shop and the 45-foot Ganesh located atop the Geary Street entrance.n

Pavani Yalamanchili thinks that window-shopping should be a competitive sport.
Published on April 16, 2007.
Photography: Courtesy of Brightroom.

More Information

Macy’s Official Web Site

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