I hope my latest post detailing my bond to ostriches successfully invoked the flightless muse. Shifting gears, I’d like to take a moment now to pay tribute to a beloved — and disappearing! — designer discount shop.
Last year, while shopping at one of my favorite stores, Loehmann’s (R.I.P.!), I spotted two orphaned wedding dresses hanging amidst the couture clutter of the Back Room. The Beverly Hills Loehmann’s flagship features a wildly haphazard store layout, in which sizes, styles and price points are hopelessly commingled. The selections are so random and impractical that you have to wonder who buys half the stuff. My best guesses are a) nobody, or b) Tilda Swinton, arriving under cover of night (daytime shopping is for peasants) to pick up the perfect bejeweled farthingale.
It’s impossible not to come away from Loehmann’s with the adrenalin-charged impression that anybody who wastes her time re-racking cast-offs is missing the true point of the experience. To wit: When at Loehmann’s, gather ye designer goods while ye may and buy anything that could possibly work for you in any universe.
With that in mind, I grabbed both dresses and took them to the communal fitting room. Anybody familiar with the Beverly Hills Loehmann’s communal fitting room will surely emit a PTSD shudder upon reading the phrase “Beverly Hills Loehmann’s communal fitting room.” It’s a boxy cell that impressively induces simultaneous claustrophobia and agoraphobia with its combination of funhouse mirrors, close proximities and a stunning lack of curtains.
The effect, I’m sure, recalls the heady vibe of working on an illegal narcotics assembly line. On both the production line and in the Loehmann’s dressing room, you’re naked in public; prim overseers ogle your entire body with a suspicious glare; and the intoxicating fume of dangerous possibility (in one case, heroin; in another, a sub-$1,000 Valentino silk gown) hangs flagrantly in the air.
When I tried on both Loehmann’s wedding dresses, only one fit. Each was a different size. Of course, the one that could barely clear my bottom rib after a month-long juice fast was the one whose design I loved. In fact, the other dress — which was two sizes larger — fastened easily and seemed to look fine on me. I was immediately bored with it. Its non-straining zipper promised no exciting future iteration of me — one who had single-digit body fat percentage and ran 9 consecutive sub-7:00 miles daily. Back to the Back Room it went.
And while my eye was drawn first to the clearance sticker on this Loehmann’s wedding gown, and then to its pleasing (albeit miniaturized) silhouette, I finally saw the most important thing — it featured ostrich feathers!