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Style With a One-of-a-Kind Whimsy

October 20, 2002|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

When a photo from the hush-hush Taos, N.M., nuptials of Julia Roberts and cameraman Daniel Moder hit the cover of People magazine in July, no one was more surprised than the bridal gown designer. "I did not know the dress was for a wedding," insists L.A. couturier Judith Bodart-Beylerian, who made several pieces for Roberts after meeting the actress through a friend. "It was a secret for me, too."

Creating a wedding gown for a gorgeous Oscar-winning film star might seem like a PR mother lode, but this is the age of the confidentiality agreement, and Bodart-Beylerian is a woman of her word. Within 24 hours of the ceremony, the indie designer, whose business card reads "art couture," was ducking inquiries from fashion editors and TV producers around the world. "I didn't answer the phone for 10 days," she says, almost apologetically, in a lilting French accent.

On the Pretty Woman subject, Bodart-Beylerian still isn't talking, except to say the experience was "a huge honor" and "a really good time.'' But it's fair to call the whimsically romantic gown--described as a "full-length Empire dress with a twist of the Bohemian''--typical of the designer's signature style. The pale pink cotton halter gown was decorated with handiwork that included pearls, embroidered antique beads and hand-painted flowers, all details favored by Beylerian, who makes each piece by hand and prefers natural fibers along with materials such as upholstery fabric and metal.

Bodart-Beylerian, a native of France, was born into a family of artists and craftsmen. She learned to sew from her mother, a graphic designer and painter, and her grandmother, also a painter. "They showed me everything I know about style, beauty and texture." She apprenticed as a graphic designer before finding her calling three years ago while creating three dresses for her own wedding to L.A. artist Gregory Beylerian.

Commissions for Bodart-Beylerian's one-of-a-kind designs come by word of mouth. Many pieces reflect the five years she lived on Reunion Island near Madagascar and two years in the Caribbean. "I'll mix a little of the Middle Ages with Asian and contemporary," says Bodart-Beylerian, who would like to design for theater or film. The term "art couture" on her business card is meant to be playful. "With 'fashion designer' you put yourself in a category," she says. "It's not only about fashion and style; it's about dreams and life."


Judith Bodart-Beylerian, (323) 651-3175

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