Hedda Kleinfeld Schachter Dies at 99; Built an Empire of Tulle and Satin

By 1940, they were settled in Brooklyn. Regina found work at Lily Daché, the milliner with the movie star clientele who was known for her turbans. Isadore began working out of the family’s new apartment, making what are known as Persian paw plates — lamb pelts sewn together to make a single sheet of fur — and hired a young man named Jacob Schachter, known as Jack, to help him.

Jack and Hedda fell in love, and they married in 1941. She was 17 and still in high school, and he was 21. As she recalled in an oral history for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it was illegal to be married and attend school, so Jack used to drop her off a block away in his Pontiac.

Isadore’s fur business was successful, and soon they had a small store, then a larger one, named I. Kleinfeld & Son — that would be Jack — from which Isadore, Hedda and Jack sold furs and Regina’s hats and, later, cloth coats and evening gowns. It was Hedda who sought out the fashionable clothing Kleinfeld’s became known for, adding a bridal selection in 1968 that became so popular, she ended up devoting the store solely to that market. The family soon bought five storefronts along Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue and combined them into one bridal superstore. In 1988, The New York Times reported, they sold about 7,500 wedding gowns and 10,000 bridesmaids’ dresses.

The Schachters sold the business in 1990, though they stayed on for some time to help with the transition. They also moved — to the other Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan — to an apartment designed by Mr. Marino.

After their departure, Kleinfeld’s floundered financially until the late 1990s, when it was bought by a group that included Mara Urshel, a retail executive; Ronald Rothstein, a venture capitalist; and Wayne Rogers, the actor best known for his role as Trapper John on “M*A*S*H.”

In 2005, when the new owners moved the store to 20th Street in Manhattan, Diane Cardwell wrote in The New York Times that its departure was a seismic blow to its former neighborhood, akin to Brooklyn losing the Dodgers all over again. (To ameliorate the commute of the store’s many longtime Brooklyn-based employees, for a time the owners hired buses to ferry them to and from the new location.) In 2007, Kleinfeld’s (now known as Kleinfeld Bridal) began to host the giddy reality show “Say Yes to the Dress,” which is still on the air.


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