In between, K visited more stores here in New York and in California while visiting family there. She went back to Saks but found, to her dismay, that the Austin Scarlett dresses she had liked so much were gone. There was nowhere to go but forward.
“Amsale, Madison Avenue, 1:00 PM,” she texted me. “You in?”
Oh, I’m in.
Two of K’s friends — thin, made-up professionals next to whom I was Frumpy, the 8th dwarf — joined us in the salon, which was as quiet as a planetarium and evoked a similar level of subdued awe. A docent named Dia offered us water. “Or champagne,” she added. Who, if offered free bubbly, would opt for tap? Champagne all around, please. Under ordinary circumstances, the wine is probably reserved for celebration after a dress is selected. No matter. It set the tone. We were there to make an expensive purchase and we toasted what we hoped would be an alignment of the stars.
It became clear quickly that there was little point in asking, “And how much is this one?” Unlike in Kleinfeld, where for whatever reason every dress was out of the given price range, Dia only pulled gowns under $4K. That worry alleviated, we could focus on fit and look.
A huge satin number with the modern equivalent of an 1890s bustle didn’t make sense for a desert wedding but I loved it anyway because it was so delightfully ridiculous. Other very pretty gowns hid her bass, and we are all about the bass these days, or laid lace on top of mesh, which is pretty from far away but a bit bizarre up close. In truth, the dresses were lovely, though, which makes decisions hard. They were all fine! All figure-flattering! All in her price range! Is the bride really supposed to break down weeping because one ivory tulle confection speaks to her in a way the ten before didn’t?
“Dia, you’re the expert,” I said. “Do people cry in real life, or just on TV? Are they overwhelmed and exhausted? Are they ready to be done? What’s the crying about? Is it a necessary part of the process?”