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Star-Studded Bridal Sales

NEW YORK — Star Magazine and Us Weekly might not be the first places brides-to-be turn to for dress suggestions, but recent coverage of celebrity weddings in those magazines helped Monique Lhuillier ring up $200,000 in sales at a recent three-day...

NEW YORK — Star Magazine and Us Weekly might not be the first places brides-to-be turn to for dress suggestions, but recent coverage of celebrity weddings in those magazines helped Monique Lhuillier ring up $200,000 in sales at a recent three-day trunk show.

That’s how much business the Los Angeles-based designer tallied Oct. 15-17 at Kleinfeld, a bridal store in Brooklyn. A modified version of Lhuillier’s wedding gown that Christine Baumgartner wore when she married Kevin Costner last month at his Aspen ranch was a bestseller. The $6,600 strapless ballgown has a skirt with delicate folds and silk flowers. Lhuillier sold four units of that style, contributing to her grand total of 51 dresses.

Tom Bugbee, Lhuillier’s husband and business partner, said some shoppers turned up with tear sheets from the tabloids, but went home with different dresses.

Kleinfeld shoppers were also in search of the strapless, mermaid-style wedding gown Lhuillier designed for Britney Spears’ wedding. While a dress with pearl buttons cascading down the back and an ornate train covered with crystals and flower details might be a bit much for the average bride, it helped get shoppers in the door, Bugbee said.

“It’s definitely a great first step. Our sales director Lori Weil is very good at directing them to what’s appropriate for them,” Bugbee said.

Having been bombarded with e-mails from brides-to-be looking for stores that carry the dresses Baumgartner and Spears wore, he said wedding coverage in celebrity-fueled magazines “definitely is having a huge impact in terms of awareness,” even more so than traditional bridal publications now.

“Even my college buddies were talking about Britney’s wedding — not that they really care,” Bugbee said. — R.F.

This story first appeared in the October 26, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.