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A Star's Gown, for Just 300 Bucks

Hours after the vows, a knock-off of Aniston's 'top secret' dress takes form.

August 03, 2000|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Call it Fashiongate.

Jennifer Aniston's wedding dress is out of the closet thanks to some fancy fash-spying.

Try as she might--the 200 guests at the Saturday wedding reportedly had to sign confidentiality agreements--the "Friends" star was unable to keep her wedding gown under wraps.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday August 4, 2000 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 3 View Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Wedding gown--Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy Jr. were married in 1996. An incorrect date was published in a Thursday Southern California Living story ("A Star's Gown, for Just 300 Bucks").

By Sunday night, the original, designed by Milan-based Lawrence Steele, was being copied. Allen Schwartz, founder of ABS, well-known for knocking off gowns worn at the Oscars, had sketches in hand. He wasn't interested in groom Brad Pitt's black suit reportedly designed by Hedi Salimane at Christian Dior.

By Monday, Schwartz's Los Angeles factory had made a copy of the dress. By Wednesday, the copy was delivered to the Manhattan offices of ABS.

Schwartz was discreet about his sources. "Hey, I'm the Walter Winchell and Jimmy Olson of clothing. I do not reveal my snitches," he said in a telephone interview from New York.

He said he procured the illustrations "at a place close to Malibu" and "one person did it."

The original was made in Milan and is reportedly valued at $53,000. A spokeswoman for Steele in Milan would only say the dress was white and floor length with three layers of tulle. It had a high neckline, a bodice hand-beaded with tiny pearls and a bare back. Aniston wore a long cascading veil beaded with crystals and pearls, and ivory suede and open-toed strappy high-heeled sandals by Manolo Blahnik.

Schwartz made a few alterations for the knockoff.

The original crystal-and-pearl veil was long "like a mermaid," he said. The ABS veil is floor-length. Schwartz also said he "cleaned up" the back by modifying the deep plunge of the original dress. He raised the back by 4 inches. The material is rayon satin, a peau de soie. He said they decided to skip the three layers of tulle on Aniston's gown because they are unflattering and hard to wear.

Schwartz, 55, expects the Steele knockoff to rival his first wedding gown copy--Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's 1986 pearl silk dress by Narciso Rodriguez. He said that copy proved to be the most successful seller for ABS. The company said it sold 40,000 versions of the dress over a four-year run.

The Steele knockoff will be in stores by fall and is expected to retail for $300 to $350. ABS is carried at department stores including Saks, Bloomingdale's and Macy's.

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Candace Wedlan can be reached at candace.wedlan@latimes.com.

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