Anne Barge and Flora Petakas open a bridal wear boutique in New York – WWD

NEW YORK – Magnolias and olive branches adorn the banister leading to a staircase leading to the new Anne Barge New York/Flora on Madison store.

The sunny Upper East Side boutique is a venture between Atlanta-based bridal company Anne Barge and multi-vendor eveningwear specialist Flora Petakas. Natural accents along the staircase evoke the southern heritage of Anne Barge and the Mediterranean sensibility of Petakas. As the owner of Union Square Couture bridal salon, Petakas knows the industry well too.

The walk-in store opens to the public on Tuesday, but curious passers-by and a few supportive area retailers have passed through the 1,600-square-foot space in recent days. Strapless, ballgown and other Anne Barge wedding dresses line the south side and sparkly, colorful gowns are on display on the north side. Having always had one foot in a bride and one foot in evening wear throughout her 30-year career, Petakas said opening a store on Madison Avenue was on her to-do list.

During a Friday morning visit, Petakas said she was won over by the expanse of windows, although redesigning the interior of what was once a nail salon required a little imagination. Stylists and wedding planners will be essential to help raise awareness of the store. After 23 years in business, Anne Barge has her own clientele.

Other New York bridal salons have been very supportive and plan to help spread the word, as most don’t offer formal wear, Petakas said. Consumers will also experience the 766 Madison Avenue outpost through social media and each of the company’s sites. Overall business is “incredibly busy”, with many more than ready to celebrate as last year the mood was more hesitant, she said. “Maybe the guest lists aren’t as big as they used to be [to the pandemic]. But party attire is definitely more important than a year ago.

A halter dress in multicolored floral beaded tulle from Marco & Maria, a Canary Island resource run by Marco Marrero and Maria Diaz that sells for around $4,000, is a key item. Another style from Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika that sells for $8,000 is another, said Petakas, who said customers are also spending more this year. Other resources include Rachel Gilbert, Yolancris, Costarellos and Gemy Maalouf. The assortment is designed for the second most important woman at a wedding, whether it’s the mother of the bride, mother-in-law or event hostess. “She defers to the bride but her dress is very important,” Petakas said.

With mothers of the bride often asking in the past where they could buy evening wear suitable for the wedding, she said that outside of traditional department stores, options were limited in terms of salon-like settings. “I wanted to provide the same luxury service that the bride was providing at the next [important] wedding guest,” she said.

Despite the women’s willingness to get dressed, wedding guests continue to abide by the unspoken rule not to upstage the bride, according to Petakas. “There is still a calm, waiting [period] until the bride makes up her mind and then consults with her to some extent.

On the whole, however, people are ready to dress up, from his point of view. “It’s something people want to do. We’ve been rummaging through our closets for two years trying to compose outfits for the upcoming occasions. We realize that there is really nothing festive. We cleaned them. How many times have we cleaned out our closets in the past two years? »

The fact that Anne Barge’s business at her Atlanta store increased during COVID-19 made opening a New York flagship store with Petakas “a perfect opportunity to not only serve customers from the tri-state area, but also for international brides shopping in New York,” said Anne Barge. Chairman Shawne Jacobs in a telephone interview.

The pandemic has prompted brides to spend an average of $2,000 more on their wedding dresses, she said. This caused the average retail price range for a set to drop from $5,500-$6,000 to between $7,500-$8,000. While the media predicted the reverse would happen and brides would gravitate towards more casual styles, it didn’t.

“At the start of COVID[-19] and all the while people kept asking, ‘Are you going to start designing more short dresses or pantsuits to make it more casual?’ We have seen the opposite happen. Many other designers saw this as well,” Jacobs said.

With expectations of continued inflation and some economists predicting a recession, the company’s president said she was lucky enough to ride out the 2008 recession with namesake founder Anne Barge and saw the changes. which had to be provided.

“It bodes well to me if that were to happen. At that time we had a Le Fleur collection that looks a lot like our [current] The price of Blue Willow is between $1,900 and around $4,000. This collection got us through the recession. We still saw brides getting married, but their prices dropped. We don’t quite see it yet. If that were to happen, it would be the same in this case.

The Anne Barge signature collection sells for around $4,000 to $10,000. New York shoppers will find select dresses not offered at the Atlanta flagship store, where shoppers tend to embrace the Southern bridal vibe. New York brides are more sophisticated and aren’t afraid to take a risk with trendier styles, Jacobs said. Madison Avenue shoppers will also be able to pick up “fun, after-party” dresses from the bridal resource’s Little White Dress brand in the $1,500 to $4,000 range.

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