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Talk About a Dress Designer's Dream

September 25, 1996|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

On the day the beautiful blond bride married the rich, handsome groom, the wedding dress designer was sick in bed with bronchitis and a broken phone.

Narciso Rodriguez, the 35-year-old head women's designer for Cerruti 1881 Arpe, had no idea that down the coast from his New York apartment, news of the John F. Kennedy Jr.-Carolyn Bessette wedding was exploding, and his dress was making fashion headlines.

"He was supposed to be on a plane last night for Paris to get ready for an upcoming show, but he was home sick, and his phone wasn't working," explained Rodriguez's publicist, Margaret Muldoon, on Tuesday, fielding her 200th call in a day and a half. "This is the one day in your life you'd like the phone to work."

The dress is a pearl-colored sleeveless silk crepe gown with a draped front, with a piece of silk tulle first worn as a mantilla during the ceremony, then later as a shawl.

The style is indicative of Rodriguez's upcoming spring line for Cerruti, but he has no plans to incorporate that exact dress into the collection. But Muldoon has heard it's already being knocked off.

Bessette became friends with Rodriguez when they both worked at Calvin Klein (she as a publicist), and they started collaborating on the dress about two months ago. The project was kept hush-hush; Muldoon said she only knew a wedding dress was being made.

Rodriguez also made Bessette's rehearsal dinner dress, which was a calf-length nude chiffon sleeveless sheath, covered in caviar pearls, with a V-neck in front and a low V in back. (The designer was also responsible for Dina Ruiz's wedding dress--that's Mrs. Clint Eastwood.)

Muldoon believes that this enormous wave of publicity will have "a huge impact [on the collection]. This now is the thing that I feel ultimately will take us over the top."

And how is Rodriguez handling it all?

He's been invited to the White House as a guest of a magazine editor.

"It's tonight," Muldoon said, "and right now he's looking for a shirt and tie to wear."

Meanwhile, the 96-year-old Greyfield Inn bed-and-breakfast has been inundated with calls since the nuptials. But they're mostly from the media.

"Everyone from 'Larry King Live' to the National Enquirer has phoned," said the Inn's Karen Langshaw.

Some customers have complained about not being able to get through because the lines have been so busy. And, a few have asked to book The Room--the one that Kennedy slept in. "But we don't give [that] information," she said.

* Times staff writer Roy Rivenburg contributed to this report.

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