Herbert Gallen, chairman of Ellen Tracy, threw a gala 40th-anniversary party for his wife and chief designer, Linda Allard, at the New York Public Library last Thursday night, and it could have easily passed for another wedding. With an hour to get the library in party mode after its closing, Robert Isabel transformed Astor Hall and the Celeste Bartos Forum into a cornucopia of fall leaves, flowers and pumpkins. Ellen Tracy, which is the number one bridge resource in every department store it sells, attracted an A-list of retailers, including Burt Tansky, Joan Kaner, Michael Gould, Christina Johnson and Hal Kahn.
"Herb and Linda have always been very cooperative. We built the business together and a strong partnership," said Tansky, chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus. "They have expanded their customer base and have enhanced the relationship with all their [existing] customers."
After a cocktail party in Astor Hall, guests descended to the Celeste Bartos Forum, where they had a sit-down dinner and danced to a 12-piece band. Taking the microphone, Gallen asked, "Do you know why you’re here? Because 40 years ago, I hired a little girl, and now we’re celebrating 40 years of working, scraping and gardening. This girl — she also happens to be my wife — is a great gardener, a great cook and a great designer. Can you imagine working for 40 years and having to see me everyday? Let’s toast to my wife, Linda Allard Gallen."
Allard explained how she arrived from Doylestown, Ohio via Greyhound bus with $200 in her pocket and had a meeting with Gallen in his large office, after knocking on hundreds of doors seeking a job. As reported, when Gallen hired her and asked her how much she wanted to earn, she said $50 a week, and he offered her $60.
"I knew I liked the man right there, but I never dreamed I’d end up marrying him 38 years later. I think he took pity on me. Thank you for being the best boss I ever had, a terrific mentor who taught me everything I know about the business and a fabulous husband," said Allard. "It was all worth it," Gallen shot back.