Saturday, 28 May 2011

Style Icon XLI: Harry Gordon Selfridge

Harry Gordon Selfridge (1864-1947) was the American born founder of
Selfridge's department store, at what was then considered 'the wrong end of Oxford Street'. In fact, his store revolutionized the British shopping experience and made him a considerable fortune which, despite his business acumen he squandered on fast women, including a pair of mistresses called the 'Dolly Sisters', and regrettably slow horses. It has been estimated that he got through £3m - about the equivalent of £65m today; then came expansion and the Depression and The Chief was ousted, eventually dying, aged 83 years, and having declined, from Lansdowne House and large yachts, to a small flat in Putney. Still, at his peak, Selfridge was a great influence over 'style' with a small 's' and a very dapper fellow, as can be seen from the Spy cartoon. His store survived two World Wars and stands as his monument.

1 comment:

  1. He got his initial experience at my hometown department store, Marshall Field's, which was once the apogee of department stores. Strange that there is a huge London-Chicago connection, since the deep tubes were also built by an ex-Chicagoan.