Whoopi Goldberg has a lot to live up to.
Over the course of her storied career, the celebrated actress, comedienne, author and television host has managed to accomplish the rare EGOT designation — meaning she has Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards to her name.
But when she appeared at the much-anticipated American Dream megamall in East Rutherford, NJ, on Monday for its first major retail activation — a pop-up for her clothing line, books and other wares, dubbed Whoopi = American Dream — she was hardly phased by the pressure to perform.
“[American Dream] invited me in. So how much pressure could there be?” the star joked when FN caught up with her. “They invited me! It meant that they thought this was something worthwhile, and they allowed me to bring all the sweaters and clothing and different books. So that’s been heaven.”
Almost two decades in the making, the $5 billion American Dream project has been a headlining retail conversation for years with a series of opening-date changes as well as much ado about its many planned (and speculated) attractions and retail tenants. The complex is set to feature 3 million square feet of retail, entertainment and dining space. Aside from mall mainstays like Zara, Lululemon, Gap and H&M, it houses a Nickelodeon Universe theme park, complete with three record-breaking roller coasters, and an NHL-size ice rink. It has plans for an indoor ski slope and snowboard park that will be the first of its kind in North America, a giant Ferris wheel overlooking the New York skyline and a DreamWorks water park.
So far, the Nickelodeon Universe theme park and ice rink have opened their doors. And Goldberg’s pop-up — featuring her body positive clothing line Dubgee by Whoopi, her collection of holiday-themed sweaters and copies of her latest book, “The Unqualified Hostess” — marks the first major retail activation in the mall.
Her clothing line, launched this year, carries a range of sizes — from XS to 3X — and its assortment of minimalist tunic dresses and effortlessly stylish graphic tees (phrases include “Normal is a cycle on a washing machine”) are a nod to inclusion in fashion.
“The different sizes of women in this store tells you we’re not all pencil thin,” she said, referring the dozens of shoppers who showed up for the store’s opening. “Some of us might be pencil thin for a couple years. Women change every 25 minutes, so being a woman and thinking of it from that perspective and about all the things I have to deal with as a woman, it was important [to be inclusive].”
She added, “There’s no reason that someone who is a size 23 can’t feel as good as someone who wears a size 5. There’s no reason for anyone to feel bad about what they’re wearing ever. To me that’s a big deal because I feel like part of our problem — in the world — is that everybody feels bad about who they are. I don’t think that’s good.”
Goldberg’s pop-up will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and runs through January 2020. The space is designed with memorabilia from various movies the actress has starred in as well as organic plants from her garden and furniture from her home.
Ken Downing, chief creative officer at Triple Five Group, developer of the American Dream mall, and the former SVP and fashion director at Neiman Marcus, was on hand at the event.
Whoopi Goldberg and Ken Downing at American Dream.