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Neiman Marcus Catalog Hawks Luxury Items

September 30, 2003

DALLAS (AP) _ From Lear jets to mermaid suits, Neiman Marcus is offering up another collection of whimsical and wacky holiday gifts for wealthy shoppers.

The luxury retailer showed off items from its 77th annual Christmas book on Tuesday. Some entries are expected to sell out quickly, including 50 copies of the new BMW 645Ci coupe, at $75,170 each.

Neiman Marcus officials admit it is difficult to gauge demand for other offerings, such as his-and-hers robots. The opera-singing, hip-hop-dancing robots are priced at $400,000 a pair.

``They prompt the question (longtime company chairman) Stanley Marcus always wanted people to ask: Who would buy one of those?″ said Brendan Hoffman, chief executive of Neiman Marcus Direct, the retailer’s catalog and Internet unit.

The catalog has 503 items, from that Lear jet priced at $12.7 million to a silver-plated paperweight for $15.

Neiman Marcus won’t say how much the catalog brings in each year, and Hoffman declined to say whether last year’s book earned more than the 2001 edition.

The company prints about 90 catalogs a year and some with wider circulation and lower prices, such as its chef’s book, officials said.

But the Christmas book is the Dallas-based retailer’s signature catalog, and Hoffman predicted a good year despite the sluggish economy.

``We are very optimistic it’s going to be a terrific holiday season,″ he said. ``Neiman Marcus has had several good months in a row.″

The Christmas book, of course, is aimed at affluent shoppers who aren’t much affected by the economy.

How else to explain a $10,000 mermaid tail and faux pearl top? The fantasy gift was designed for the WB television series ``Charmed.″

``My feet aren’t even in all the way,″ said Misha Sturns, a fashion model from Dallas. ``I’ve never worn a tail suit before. It’s heavy down at the bottom.″

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