Bridal fashions thrive in hard timesName a fashion...

Inside Fashion

October 11, 1990|By Donna Peremes | Donna Peremes,New York Times News ServiceNew York Times News Service

Bridal fashions thrive in hard times

Name a fashion business that thrives when times are slow. (Hint: When it makes an entrance, Wagner is playing; as it exits, Mendelssohn.)

You got it: the bridal business.

Even in hard times, makers of wedding dresses can depend on a steady demand. In 1989, a rocky year for fashion, there were 2,404,000 marriages, the seventh greatest number in U.S. history, according to government reports.

Last year, the average wedding dress cost $794, not including veil, which cost about $170, according to a survey by Bride's magazine.

"The bridal business is pretty much recession proof," said Vincent Piccione, the president of Alfred Angelo of New York, the largest bridal manufacturer in the country. "In tough times, more people get married. Two can live better than one." *"Keep It Simple," might have been Maryland designer Claire McCardell's motto. Her designs were always innovations in the name of simplicity, such as 1938's waistless, dartless "Monastic" dress, or those fashion classics-to-be she adapted from the world of dance, the flat ballet pump and the leotard. She single-handedly originated a whole new sensibility in fashion -- the "American Look." Such was her influence on the way we dress that Life magazine has included her in its list of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century. You'll find her -- along with another Maryland native of some importance, Babe Ruth -- in the fall special issue of Life.

*Buying a secondhand or surplus bridal gown is one way to cut back on the expense of a wedding without detracting from the occasion's glamour. Twice as Nice's bridal boutique offers lots of both types of gowns, the former by consignment and the latter from a bridal salon in Towson. Mother-of-the-bride dresses, bridal veils, shoes, and even cake toppers are also available. The salon, in back of their children's and maternity consignment shop at 6324 Kenwood Ave., accepts consignments at all times. The French countryside has inspired many visual and literary paeans to its beauty, but one of the most unusual tributes is an aromatic one -- "Les Fleurs de Claude Monet," a fragrance that seeks to evoke the "rich sensuality and lush aromas" of impressionist painter Claude Monet's garden.

It can't really be called a new scent, since it's

been around for five years, but it has only been sold in Giverny, Monet's home and museum in France. Come mid-November, though, the scent will be made available at museums (including the Baltimore Museum of Art, where it will sell for about $78), botanical gardens and certain specialty shops throughout the United States.

The scent consists of such earthly delights as jasmine, iris, lily-of-the-valley, white roses, daffodil, and lavender in an ambergris base.

Monet, of course, created some of the most well-loved floral landscapes ever painted, such as "The Water Lilies" triptych and "Wild Poppies." Each package will include an educational booklet on the life and work of the artist, his home and garden at Giverny.

Donna Peremes They're sensible. They're sturdy. And they're certainly not sexy. But suddenly they're chic.

The oxford shoe, as no-nonsense as the man's style it mirrors, has become a favored footwear of women in all walks of life. The reasons are obvious for those who are on their feet all day. What's surprising is the popularity of the oxford's prim silhouette.

Just like a man's oxford, the preferred versions have a neat lace-up instep and a comfortably rounded toe, and they sit on a solid but not exaggerated sole and a low block of heel.

While they could not be considered racy of line, they are in no way as clunky as the Doctor Marten's or "policeman's" shoes still affected by avant-garde downtown types.

Naturally, oxfords look right at home with pants. What's newest, though, is the tidy way they finish off a trim suit or a separates ensemble.

There is something appealing about a pair of oxfords as accessories to a knee-length pleated skirt and semi-opaque tights. Just like school again.

A word of caution, however: Oxfords may not be the best look for those with any but the trimmest, thinnest ankles.

Edited by Catherine Cook

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