LONDON — Browns, the iconic London retailer that has built a reputation on spotting designers and trends on the distant horizon, has opened an alternative bridal boutique in Mayfair here.
Browns Bride stocks outfits for brides who could be getting married next week in St. Barths and needed a dress yesterday, fashion lovers who have to get married in Marc Jacobs and the traditional bride who long ago bought into the dream of the tiara and tulle veil.
“For every bride who wants a traditional dress, there are three who don’t,” said Caroline Collis, the daughter of Browns’ founders Joan and Sidney Burstein, and the brains behind the store. Collis founded the fragrance and skin care range Molton Brown in the early Nineties, and has been working at Browns on special projects such as Browns Focus, a store that carries lines by young fashion designers, for more than a decade.
“In the past, we had so many brides-to-be walk into Browns and ask for white dresses by their favorite designers,” she said. “Occasionally we were able to help them, but only to a certain extent because we’re traditionally cautious about buying white. And then we thought we were missing so many opportunities.”
Collis and the Browns buying team are working with designers such as Azzedine Alaiä, Jacobs and John Galliano to adapt dresses and separates from the runway collections for the store. During a walk-through of Browns Bridal, which opened recently on Brook Street, across from Claridge’s, she pointed to a pale peach dress with orange ruffles peeking from underneath.
“The dress was on Marc Jacobs’ spring runway, so it’s not even in the stores yet. But we knew we wanted a version of it when we opened,” said Collis. Zoran and Dolce & Gabbana are other designers who are working on adapting their designs for Browns Bride. “We started asking the designers to keep us in mind — and everyone has had a fantastic reaction so far.”
The dresses and separates are no more expensive than they would be at Browns, Harrods or Harvey Nichols. Collis pointed to a fluttery cream-colored Carlos Miele number with a plunging neckline and ruffled hemline. “It’s 600 pounds [$1,110] and could double as a summer cocktail dress.” The Jacobs dress costs $6,280, while Zoran’s long, pearlized skirt is $1,156 and the coordinating coat, $2,590. All figures are converted from the pound at current exchange.
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