NEW YORK — The Bridal Group at May Department Stores Co. held a fashion show Thursday in West Conshohocken, Pa., and announced plans to expand its partnership with Oleg Cassini, who has designed bridal gowns for the David’s Bridal division since the late-Nineties.
The event included a fashion show that packed in close to 100 styles, including bridal gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses and men’s formalwear from Priscilla of Boston, David’s Bridal and After Hours Formalwear.
The show was followed by a luncheon at which Cassini signed copies of his book “A Thousand Days of Magic: Dressing Jackie Kennedy for the White House.”
“I like designing for brides, because I had a few brides myself,” quipped the 90-year-old designer, who was married to actress Gene Tierney and engaged to Grace Kelly.
David’s Bridal president and chief executive Robert D. Huth revealed potential plans to launch the Oleg Cassini Couture Bridal line next year. It would range in price from $5,000 to $25,000 and be exclusive to Priscilla of Boston stores. The Priscilla chain currently carries gowns between $1,800 to $5,000.
David’s, on the other hand, specializes in wedding gowns priced below $699, though it has also gone after a slightly higher price point with the licensed Oleg Cassini Bridal Collection, which runs from $800 to $1,200. The chain recently finished adding in-store Oleg Cassini shops in many of its locations. Cassini will also design formalwear for After Hours, according to Huth.
The three chains make up The Bridal Group, a division May founded when it purchased the 158-unit David’s chain for $436 million in 2000. David’s is on track to have 200 stores opened by the end of the year. Following that acquisition, May purchased the 10-unit Priscilla of Boston chain and the 239-unit After Hours Formalwear, which now has 331 doors.
This month, May purchased the 66-store Desmonds Formalwear chain for an undisclosed sum and plans to fold it into After Hours, Huth said. In the fiscal year ended Feb. 1, the Philadelphia-based bridal group generated sales of $508 million.
According to Huth, David’s Bridal represents 25 percent of the bridal market nationwide.
“David’s is not a discount house, though that’s what people want to believe,” said Huth. “People ask how we sell our gowns for so little, and it’s because we have our own development and sourcing. We will sell 375,000 gowns this year.”