Something borrowed, something new: Bridal boutiques go for the glam
For those who received a Christmas Eve proposal or are expecting one Valentine’s Day, go ahead and pull out the bridal magazines you’ve had tucked away. There are pressing matters to consider, few more important than the dress, so it’s a good thing there are two new shopping spots for prospective brides to check out before walking down the aisle.
Ivory Bridal Atelier
The first steps into Ivory Bridal Atelier are breathtaking, even for an old married lady like me. Gleaming dark wood floors, sparkling art deco-inspired chandeliers and wedding gowns perfectly framed by white cabinets have powerful transportive powers. The new West Ave boutique owned by sisters Ronit and Sharon Levy is an ode to the modern bride who wants to feel just as special shopping for a dress as she does wearing it.
“We want this whole experience to be magical and for the brides to feel special,” Ronit Levy says. “I went shopping in New York for my wedding dress and I felt like one of a million brides.”
While she bought her dress from a Houston shop, she ran into a friend when they both came out of the dressing room at the same time. After that, the sisters decided they wanted a more intimate bridal boutique and built two very spacious rooms for a bride and her entourage.
The sitting rooms are decked out with slate velvet-tufted sofas and floor-to-ceiling curtains give the bride privacy and the ability to have her big reveal moment. The sisters bring dresses, accessories, champagne and cupcakes to the room, creating a bridal cocoon.
The duo have both been brides, but more importantly, they have retail and business experience, tools that came in handy when Ivory was in the planning stages. Ronit Levy worked on the business side of fashion for Hugo Boss and Sharon worked in public relations and event planning for Laura Mercier and Louis Vuitton.
Their work experience is reflected in their wedding gown selections. Badgley Mischka, Lela Rose, Lazaro and Rivini are among the designers carried at Ivory and many of the dresses would look as appropriate on the red carpet as down the wedding aisle thanks to elements like one-shoulder designs and belts.
“The dresses are edgy and yet still traditional,” Ronit says.
Gowns range from $2,800 to $15,000 and can take up to four months to be sewn since each dress is handmade. The sisters are holding a grand opening party Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. with cocktails (light-colored I’m sure) hors d’oeuvres and door prizes.
Even though the boutique is new, the sisters have already seen how a gorgeous dress can affect a person. Sharon has deemed a lace and mocha-hued Ann Barge dress the “onion” gown because women slip it on and immediately start to cry. Every. Single. Time.
“We were at the bridal show and a woman just walked up to the dress and burst into tears, because it’s that beautiful,” Ronit says.
Milad Bridal Boutique
Beauty on a budget is the focus of Milad Bridal Boutique, a new wedding gown rental and consignment shop. Tucked away on the second floor of a building off Persa, Milad is simple and frankly, plain. But for those who adore designer gowns, but can’t or won’t spend thousands on a wedding gown, it’s the gorgeous gowns that matter.
Owner Mila Arzu accepts only crème de la crème gowns by designers such as Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier and Amsale and then allows women to rent the dresses for up to eight days. A $2,700 silk taffeta Vera Wang gown rents for $500 and a Lazaro Duchess Silk Satin and Alencon Lace dress sells for $3,400 but rents for $1,950.
Arzu also rents bridesmaids gowns, has a small selection of flower girl dressed and she pays to have the dresses dry-cleaned after being rented.
“There’s just something about a designer dress, but who wants to spend that kind of money?” Arzu says. “I thought, this is Houston, the fourth largest city in the country. Why don’t we have a wedding dress rental service?”
Women who want to consign their dresses at Milad can email Arzu a picture of their dress to make sure it is appropriate for the boutique and then once accepted, it goes on the store’s website for 60 days. Each time the dress is rented, the consignee is paid.
To keep the inventory fresh, Arzu only keeps gowns in the rotation for 60 days, however she says other arrangements can also be made. Arzu shops trunk shows for gowns and expects to have a growing trousseau of gowns, shoes, tiaras, veils and other wedding accessories.