Monday, January 9, 2012

End of an Era in Bridal Fashion

When I saw this article about Priscilla of Boston stores closing, it made me sad.  So many iconic American Brands are disappearing.  Other brands that used to have quality construction and fabrics seem to have swapped them for inferior quality.  You've probably noticed it, too.  Plaids and prints that don't properly align, expensive cashmere sweaters that pill horribly on the first wear, and thin fabric that feels cheap are my biggest pet peeves.  But, I'm getting off track.  Back to the wedding dresses. 

Priscilla of Boston has been the designer of choice for classic American Brides for many decades.  Long before Vera Wang started envisioning her gowns, Priscilla of Boston dressed some of America's most famous brides.

Princess Grace chose Priscilla of Boston.

Luci Baines Johnson chose Priscilla of Boston.

Tricia Nixon also chose Priscilla of Boston.

To loosely paraphrase an article I read about the stores closing, a David's Bridal representative says that brides are not willing to pay for a Priscilla of Boston gown and that the company prefers are to focus on David's Bridal, where gowns cost around 1,000 or less. A wedding is every girl's dream. To this day, I remember making an appointment at the exclusive bridal boutique in Polanco in Mexico City to find the perfect dress from Pronovias. With butterflies in my stomach, I rang the doorbell at the boutique and loved the personalized experience and attention I received. It made me feel like a princess.  There is a dress for every bride and every budget. 

In my opinion, there are many brides who are willing to pay a higher price for a wedding dress and a unique bridal salon experience.  Think about the success of the TLC's  "Say Yes to the Dress" where viewers see a bride's search for the perfect dress at the upscale Kleinfeld BridalFurthermore, many day dresses from some of my favorite designers retail for the prices of what some David's Bridal Gowns cost!  Many bridal designers have multiple price tiers in their collections and this model might have worked well under the umbrella of these two brands. 

Although I was disappointed that Priscilla of Boston was closing, I was disgusted to hear that many Priscilla of Boston gowns were defaced and spray painted (in pink!) so that they could not be used.  To paraphrase, they didn't wan't the value of the dresses to be cheapened by the secondary market.  What?  While I understand that dumpster diving is a problem and that the company didn't want the bridal gowns to end up in the hands of thieves, wouldn't it have made more sense to donate the dresses?  Why destroy a wedding gown?  Who would destroy an American Icon?  At a Charity Auction, brides could bid on the iconic (and now collectible) gowns, while helping a worthy cause.  This would have been a win-win situation for everyone, right?



What was your experience like when you were shopping for a wedding gown? Did you buy it in a bridal salon or online?


xoxo





images via getty images and mnbc

17 comments:

  1. I was so saddened to read about Priscilla closing it's doors. My mother and I were both Priscilla brides and even participated in their "Mom and I" bridal campaign. I had high hopes that my daughters would either wear my dress when they got married or someday we would spend an afternoon shopping at a Priscilla boutique for their dresses.

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  2. I hate that they are closing! Also, I find it disturbing that they did that to their dresses! So sad!

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  3. This is such an interesting (and SAD) read! I am so sad to hear that Priscilla of Boston is closing. It is such a lovely brand! I am here to say that there are loads of brides ready to spend that type of money and want that type of experience. I was on a budget of $2000 for my wedding dress last year. Although it was modest, I was absolutely against going to Davids. I don't want to wear a wedding dress that every one has. Davids has it's place and I think it is great that a bride can find a dress at every price point especially at a one stop shop like Davids. It works for some brides...but not for me. It wasn't that special experience. I can say that I am happy I went to a few bridal salons and found my perfect dress (for $1400 actually...so you can find budget gowns for reasonable prices). There were even gorgeous gowns at the salon that were on sale for as low as $600-800. Anyway, I am going off on a lark. I have a big opinion about this! :) Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I love Tricia Nixon's dress. Thanks for the great post. Mine was purchased in a bridal salon in Northern Virginia & still love my dress. I hope my daughter wears it one day.

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  5. I LOVED this post today, what a bright way to cheer up my dreary first day back to school day! As I am from Boston, I was so sad to learn about the store closing! I am still on the prowl for a wedding dress and I just loved this post! Thanks, Bethany! xx

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  6. I did not wear a Priscilla but one of my sister in laws wore one. I wore a Pronovias. It is sad that they had to deface the dresses.

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  7. This post brings back so many memories Bethany. I wore a Priscilla of Boston dress and can honestly say it was the WORST experience in my entire wedding planning. The WORST. In the one year we were engaged three sales managers came and went at the Tyson's store. My godmother and I were never treated as if they remembered us when I went in for fittings because NO ONE was ever the same. They called me Nellie after countless reminders that my name is pronounced Nelle (silent e). The seamstress complained about long hours and how she wasn't sure if she would be able to finish my gown in time. The stress surrounding my dress was beyond wild. My gown was truly too big when I walked down the aisle and I can still see the flaws in some photos. It was awful. It was the second gown I tried on and fell in love. Saks treated me and my bridesmaids like every woman imagines with champagne and water offered. I can honestly say I'm not surprised by their closing. To this day the name strikes a very, very negative cord with me and my very generous godmother who gave me the dress as a gift. The defacing of these gowns is just beyond sickening. You are absolutely right. Donate them to a charity or the Smithsonian? Good Lord. What arrogance! Thank you for the post and time to rant. xoxo

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  8. I love that brand, I wore a bridesmaids dress from there. I got my dress at a wedding salon that carried many different labels.
    xoxo
    SC

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  9. Tricia Nixon's gown is absolutely gorgeous, how sad!

    xx Emily @ laughliveandshop.blogspot.com

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  10. My wedding gown was a Priscilla of Boston, and I was devastated when I heard they were closing their doors. I cherish my memories of appointments in the lovely shop and the attention I received from my bridal consultants. I completely agree that there is a market for brides who appreciate this level of service and quality... it makes me so sad to see those gorgeous gowns being defaced!

    Thank you for a fabulous post, Bethany.

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  11. Thanks for all of the comments today. This topic was on my mind all weekend. People DO want a good experience and do appreciate quality items.

    It's so nice to hear that so many of you were able to wear a gown from Priscilla of Boston. (And it's also pretty neat that Suburban Princess and I both chose Pronovias.)

    My mother's gown was also from Priscilla of Boston and I asked her if I could post her wedding picture, but she politely declined my request. She always told me about Priscilla of Boston and I always thought that I would get my dress there. It's only because I was in Mexico (without POB) that I chose another brand.

    I'm still disgusted by such treasures being destroyed...on purpose.

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  12. I beg to differ, but Grace's dress was a gift from MGM, designed by Helen Rose.

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  13. I was so devastated to hear this. It was always my dream to one day wear a Priscilla of Boston weddings dress on my big day! Great post.

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  14. I'm not married, but I would have loved to buy my wedding gown at Priscilla's! Also, I think that it is horrible that the dresses were destroyed...they could have donated them to an organization that helps brides who are less fortunate than others!

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  15. My wedding gown was Priscilla of Boston and to say that their closing saddens me is an understatement. I hate that the store my mother and I had such wonderful experiences at will be no longer. :(

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  16. Though I am nowhere near getting married I have been to several dressing appointments in various high end salons, and by far the WORST was at Kleinfelds. A close family friend was getting married and they could not have been more excited to head to their appointment. Without tact, or any sort of bedside manner the consultant harped on what the "price point" would be, and when she finally landed on a more conservative figure the consultant was so unbelievably rude. She rushed us through the 2 hour appointment and kept on mentioning that she had another high priority client waiting to see her before our appointment had ended, and from what I have heard this is not a particularly unique experience. I just hope that by the time I have to pick out my own wedding dress it's ot necessary to pay an exorbitant amount of money to have a positive experience.

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  17. My wedding dress was the first one I tried on! I flew home to Florida and my mom had made appointments for me to try dresses at all these darling bridal boutiques around Orlando. We went to the first appointment, I told the sales lady what I had in mind, and the first dress she had me try on was the one! My sister (who was flying in to dress shop with us that weekend) wasn't even there yet!

    I'm so sad to hear that Priscilla of Boston is closing. Oh my goodness I'm absolutely horrified that they defaced those gowns though! Donating them would have been such a beautiful and graceful way to go out of business and instead they chose spray paint.

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