Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK--While the country grows more preoccupied with dressing down, Mary Jane Denzer is thinking of ways to dress people up.
She has arranged for Paul-Louis Orrier to work by appointment at her eponymous White Plains, N.Y., store from June 20-24, where he will design one-of-a-kind gowns and cocktail dresses retailing between $5,000 and $7,000.
Orrier, known for his intricate draping and luxurious fabrics, will return for a week in January to design for spring and summer.
Other high-end retailers such as Amen Wardy and Martha's were forced to close, but Denzer's business continues to grow. In September, she relocated her store from Post Road to the corner of Maple and Mamaroneck Avenues, more than doubling the selling space.
Denzer contends that the Westchester, an 850,000-square-foot mall that opened March 17 in White Plains, has not slowed her business. She expects to do $5 million in sales in the new location this year, compared to $3.5 million in 1994.
"There are a lot of gorgeous stores in that mall, but they don't have the upscale merchandise we carry," Denzer said. "Neiman Marcus is the only store of our caliber, but they don't have the selection that we have. "As far as my customer shopping in a mall,' she said, "it's too much of a hassle. They like to pull up to our door and have their car parked. They like the ambience and serenity of the store."
Denzer carries the collections of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, ChloA, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix and Jacques Fath, among others. However, she felt her assortment lacked drop-dead evening gowns.
"There's a tremendous void in magnificent evening clothes that really have a flair," Denzer said. "That's what Orrier is all about. He'll spend two hours with each customer designing a dress before he comes up with exactly the right thing. He'll thoroughly research her before he makes his final draft."
Denzer scoffs at the concept of dressing down.
"Dressing down is not for people in the real social set," Denzer said. "They're still having all their parties, galas, balls and weddings.
"People who wear Orrier really do want to be noticed," Denzer added. "It's not flashy and it's not gaudy. But it has so much style. I'm so tired of all the copies, bad fabrics and lack of creativity that I see. It's the same thing over and over."
Denzer expects to take orders for at least 10 dresses next month.
"We've already sold one dress," she said. "It's a real experiment, but from the customers I've spoken to there's been tremendous interest.
"I did a fabulous business with Orrier until he did his last collection for spring 1994," Denzer said
She noted that since then Orrier has been designing for private clients in Europe.
Denzer commented, "When he told me there would be no more couture I was totally crushed.
"He knows how to make a dress fit," added Denzer, saying, "He knows how to make a woman look great."

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