For years, I have bought sunglasses from my beloved Bergdorf Goodman, the iconic New York lifestyle destination located just south of Central Park on the cornerstone of fashion and luxury, 57th Street and 5th Avenue. Up until Bergdorf started a 1st floor construction project, they tucked the sunglasses to the left of designer handbags off the quiet 57th street entrance. Now, you will find the sunnies department an elevator ride away directly below that same spot on the Beauty level.
I always purchase my sunglasses from Fatrin Krajka, the seemingly quiet gentlemen well dressed in a blazer, slacks, checked shirt and quirky tie. He has that purposely unkempt hipster look with hair falling just so across his forehead, forcing him to brush it back from time to time. His well trimmed beard looks like he has a weekly appointment with a proper barber and his Albanian accent coupled with that certain European customer service creates this charming mystique. Fatrin wears eyeglasses, the kind you notice because they fit so well but also the kind you can easily forget because they seamlessly blend into his face.
Only recently did I learn Fatrin’s born given name because I have always affectionately called him the “Sunglass Whisperer.” He comes by this name honestly. We first met 4 or 5 years ago when I wandered into Bergdorf’s sunglass section looking for nothing in particular. I asked to try on a pair of oversized Celine sunglasses I recently read about in a fashion mag. He politely passed them to me. After I tried them on, he briefly looked at me, shook his head and said, “No.”
As if he had been waiting to do so from the moment he saw me, Fatrin reached into a random cabinet, pulled out a black & white cat eye by Alexander McQueen and said, “Try these.” I argued a little and insisted I wanted the oversized look. He then explained why they didn’t work: “They are too big for you, they sit on your cheeks and are not well suited for your face shape. Your face is round so you need a sunglass with a bit of wing at the top to create symmetry.” Because of Fatrin’s detailed argument, I picked up the Alexander McQueen pair and tried them on. I casually looked in the mirror and had to take a step back. I turned my head slightly right, slightly left and found myself speechless. Oh my goodness, these were the sunglasses I have searched for my entire adult life! In less than 5 minutes, this stranger found me a pair of sunnies that fit my face perfectly, made me feel instantly chic but at the same time felt like I had nothing on at all. They didn’t pinch the bridge of my nose, back of my ears or fall down my face when I looked down. Fatrin insisted on making a tiny adjustment. But, really they were perfect from the moment I put them on. They perch on my face as if McQueen made them to fit a mud mold of my likeness.
Intrigued by how quickly he picked out the McQueen cat eyes, I asked him to choose an aviator. I had always wanted that cool aviator look and had tried on at least 50 pairs through the years. But they never looked right on me so I had given up the pursuit. He paused for a second, walked to a glass case, grabbed a Dior and said, “These.” I anxiously grabbed the oversized aviators, put them on and again, just like the McQueen cat-eye, they were absolutely, wonderfully perfect. In amazement, I explained to Fatrin that I had tried to make the classic Ray Ban aviators work and always failed. And he simply replied, “The Ray Ban is too small for your face.” Humph, well that explains it all!
In less than 20 minutes, I bought both pairs that I still treasure today, the McQueen Cat Eye & Dior Aviators. In that moment, my relationship with Fatrin began. As I skipped away with my purchases in that iconic purple shopping back with black writing, I looked back over my shoulder, smiled broadly as I do and said, “You’re the sunglass whisper.” He gave that boyish grin, rubbed his chin and said, “That’s a good one.”
If I am lunching with girlfriends anywhere near Bergdorf’s, I tell them about my friend the Sunglass Whisperer. None of them are ever believers. But it goes down the same way each and every time. We walk up to the sunglass counter. I yell, “Sunglass Whisper!” with the same fondness, joy and intensity as a Greek yelling “Opa” at his brother’s wedding. ?????? My friend rolls their eyes because they think its just me being me (ok, yes, I can kinda see their point), then saunters up to the counter (the sauciness of the saunter depends on how much champs we just consumed), gives the look and says, “Okay Whisperer, work your magic.” Fatrin studies my friend’s face and overall style for about 15 seconds or less and then grabs a pair of sunnies from one of the many cases. My friend then tries them on, gazes into the mirror and, viola, sunglass magic. Happens every single time! (The gallery of pictures below prove my point.) They are usually sunglasses that my friend would never have even noticed without the Whisperer’s guidance. But because we are New Yorkers and live in an ongoing state of pessimism, each woman goes through the same trial and error process as I did with Fatrin years ago. She asks him, “What about these.” He says, “No,” and then pulls out another perfect pair and explains why his particular choice works for her face and why her choice will never work.
When my Sunglass Whisper finally becomes a full-time musician and chooses his last pair of sunnies, it will be a bittersweet moment. Bitter because my sunglass drawer will lose its curator. Sweet because music is in his blood. (Once the inevitable happens, my sincere hope is that, a few times a year, I can convince him to meet me for a midday cocktail near the windows at BG on the 7th floor, meander down to sunglasses and let him work his magic for old times sake!?)
The “Sunglass Whisperer” is a CERTIFIED member of Jacqslist!