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To Rent Is Divine : Store makes decking out in a drop-dead gorgeous designer gown affordable--if only for a night.

November 04, 1994|GERI COOK

Some traditions should have been broken years ago. Why they even exist is baffling. For instance, why, when a special occasion calls for special attire, do women buy and men rent?

It doesn't make sense. In all probability, Michelle won't wear the dress again and Michael will need to rent a tuxedo again next year. And it could be the same tux. Who would notice?

This is one tradition we've got backward. If she would rent, there would be more than enough saved for him to buy a decent tuxedo that he could wear for several years.


One Night Affair is in its seventh year of renting designer gowns at a fraction of their retail price. They have more than 1,000 styles of cocktail dresses and evening gowns in stock, many of them designed by the likes of Bob Mackie, Christian Dior, Oleg Cassini, Bill Blass and Gianni Versace.

Retail prices for these gowns range from $400 to $3,000, but the rental charge is from $45 to $150.

The selection is enormous, much larger and more diverse than at any store in town. In fact, the first step in choosing a gown is poring through catalogues to determine the look you're after. It would take days and many trips to many stores to see this number of gowns. Once you've narrowed it down to style and color, a rental consultant parades out your choices.

There is no size problem, since they start with size 2 and go up to size 44; there are also some maternity gowns. Two full-time seamstresses on the premises handle alterations, which rarely run more than $15.

Instead of having to settle for a $500 gown, you could wear a $3,000 dress and only spend $150. A cocktail dress from Gianni Versace that model Claudia Schiffer has been photographed in rents for $95; to buy it would cost $2,800.


A drop-dead gorgeous Bob Mackie gown retails for $3,000 but can be rented for $150, the top price at One Night Affair for cocktail and ball gowns. Were you to purchase the Bob Mackie, the sales tax alone would be more than the rental fee.

There's also a full line of accessories--jewelry, gloves, handbags--for rent from $5 to $15.

Rental time usually starts Friday and goes through Tuesday, but for those who are going to be out of town and need the gown for another week, figure on an additional 10% added to the rental fee.

Should a catastrophe occur and the dress becomes a total loss, the rental price is deducted from the wholesale price. But chances of this are slim, says owner Sharon Gilcrest, who adds that it's happened only twice in seven years.

One Night Affair supplies wardrobes to motion picture and television productions and to attendees of award shows. The store also has a large bridal department where the rentals start at $100 and go up to $595--for a $12,000 wedding gown.

Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life! Questions about shopping may be sent to her, in care of Valley Life!, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, 91311. Letters will not be answered individually, but topics of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Geri Cook can be heard from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on KIEV 870-AM.

Where to Shop

What: One Night Affair.

Location: 2370 Westwood Blvd., West Los Angeles.

Hours: By appointment.

Cards: Discover, MasterCard, Visa.

Call: (310) 474-7808.

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