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After dressing tens of thousands of brides in the last 41 years, Yolanda Cellucci will close her one-stop bridal and ready-to-wear boutique, salon, spa and cafe in Waltham, Mass., next month.
This story first appeared in the July 16, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Known for her all-white ensembles and elongated eyelashes, Cellucci, who has been dubbed the “Sultan of Sequins,” has favored the old-school approach to retail, making a point of calling her customers by name and dressing generations of family members. But with her 75th birthday a few months away, she said: “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve never been ready to do this and frankly I never will be. I get here at five to six every morning, and my trips to New York are frequent,” she said. “But my children said to me, ‘You need to give yourself some time and to give us some time.’”
She spent a good part of Wednesday fielding calls from brides-to-be worried about their wedding gown orders. Not about to leave them high and dry, she will keep the store open until Aug. 29 and after that, two area boutiques, Ana Hernandez in Boston and David Joseph & Sondra Celli in Waltham, will offer alterations or additional orders.
Salon gift certificates and health club memberships will be honored by Roberts Salon & Spa in Belmont, Mass. and the Waverly Oaks Health Club in Waltham. “So many stores just close their doors and don’t do anything,” Cellucci said. “I wasn’t going to do that. We have weddings planned into January 2010. If a girl I’ve worked with really wants me to, I’ll come in for her fitting.”
Rather than sell the $5 million business, she opted to sell the 22,000-square-foot space for an undisclosed sum to Duffy Partners, a local developer. Other potential buyers wanted the business, too, but they also wanted her to stay on for five years and to sign a guarantee. “I didn’t think that was a wise decision,” she said. “They would change the business, and I could wind up getting it back in five years.”
Cellucci has donated about $250,000 worth of wedding gowns from designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Pauline Trigère and Bob Mackie to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for an exhibition. She said she has also approached the Fashion Institute of Technology about donating another batch of “showstopping” wedding gowns and accessories of comparable value. Cellucci, who started out selling wigs and a rack of dresses in 1968, has donated $500,0000 worth of wigs to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
She is also considering starting an e-commerce site or even opening a small store. “Brides would come in, try everything on and then buy it online,” she said. “I thought, ‘If that’s what I am losing business to, why not do it on my own?’”