08.02.10 5:59 PM ET
Chelsea's Wedding Dress Knockoff
Here comes the bride: Chelsea Clinton in Vera Wang! And here comes the clone. On Tuesday, A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz will announce two new designs “inspired by” this weekend’s Rhinebeck wedding. The mini-collection will feature a bridal gown and a mother-of-the-bride frock.
The designer, infamous for infuriating designers by creating economical interpretations of couture gowns, will release his Clinton duet in November, “in time for the holidays”; the prototypes will be unveiled in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and in New York on Wednesday. “I thought Chelsea looked beautiful,” Schwartz told The Daily Beast. “The whole mood of the wedding was wonderful.”
Chelsea’s wedding dress featured organza pulled and tucked into petals of fabric, and a sparkling, gem-studded sash encircling her tiny waist. It’s a simple, straightforward enough design, though estimates have pegged the original at around $20,000—considerably higher than Schwartz’s $100-plus range. “The rhinestones were the real inspiration for me,” said Schwartz. “A belted gown is the trend right now, and Chelsea was wearing it perfectly.” Schwartz’s echoing creation will also be organza, with a rhinestone-encrusted belt.
Hillary’s Oscar de la Renta gown, which fades from a deep purple-y plum into lavender dusting the floor, can only be seen full-length in the official photograph of Marc and Chelsea coming back down the aisle as man and wife. “Hillary also looked beautiful in that aubergine dress,” he said. The photo is so blurry that the secretary of State would not be recognizable were Bill’s silver crown not visible just above Chelsea’s veil. But Schwartz got enough of an idea to be inspired by “those 3-D flowers.”
Over the years, Allen Schwartz has made versions of some of the most show-stopping gowns accessible to people who aren’t starlets—or former first daughters—by producing such inexpensive, event-inspired pieces. Chelsea is not his first bridal inspiration, but “frankly, she’s very traditional. I’d say she is in the top three,” citing Jennifer Aniston’s gown as another of his favorites.
Schwartz is not alone in trying to cash in on cheaper Chelsea lookalikes. David’s Bridal, the wedding-gown chain retailer that Vera Wang just struck a partnership with in April, sent out a press release this afternoon saying, “If you fell in love with Chelsea’s gown, but don’t have the fairy tale budget, David’s Bridal offers designer looks, without the platinum price tags.” The two gowns featured on the release (and on the image for this story on The Daily Beast homepage) were also strapless organza numbers, though not belted, for $599 and $1,050.
It remains to be seen how the two designers behind Chelsea’s gown and Hillary’s dress feel about the sincerest form of flattery. Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang are both on the board of the Council of Fashion Designers in America, which has made news for lobbying to protect design copyrights. “Vera’s not commenting” on Mr. Schwartz’s new designs, said a spokesperson at Vera Wang. Oscar de la Renta’s office said the designer would not be available for comment.
Claire Howorth is the Arts editor at the Daily Beast.