Photo: Fred Marcus Studio
Shopping for the perfect mother of the bride dress can be stressful. The market is saturated with over-embellished and frumpy frocks, and it's hard to find a gorgeous off-the-rack dress that won't cost an arm and a leg in alterations. On the flipside, chic custom dresses are uber costly and time consuming... So, what's a New York mother of the bride to do? Give mom the best lay of the land and trim her shopping list down to these five locales. Not only will she be privy to the best MOB dress options in the city, she'll get great customer service from honest and passionate designers and salespeople who take the stress out of the entire experience.
Known for the simple, sophisticated, and flattering elegance of his namesake bridal gowns, Angelo Lambrou also offers couture eveningwear that many a Manhattan mother of the bride adores. His clothes are inspired by his wordly roots and the energy of New York City — the Southern Africa-born designer initially came to the states after designing the dresses for the entire opening of Miss Universe 2000. Angelo Lambrou clients can expect designs alive with texture, shape and form — including a signature line of bias cuts, draped wrap details and handcrafted, intricate pleating that flatters in just the right places. The atelier works by appointment only so the gown selection process can become a creative collaboration leading to a one-of-a-kind gown as individual as each client. Dresses begin at $3,500. Read real brides' reviews here!
This Upper East Side staple has long been a fixture in social dresses. They recently moved to a new location on Madison between 53rd and 54th, where they treat fashionable mothers of the bride and groom to their extensive designer assortment, expansive collection of high quality fabrics, and an in-house tailor who has the capability to make muslins for a perfectly fitted custom frock. Clifford Michael suggests coming in four to six months prior to the wedding to allow time for fittings and fabric acquisition (they source beading from the best artisans in India, and select re-embroidered lace from France). Moms working on a timeline can also choose from an assortment of first-rate gowns in the showroom. The store hosts trunk shows regularly, and can accommodate up to a size 22.
Lee Anderson is a designer known for her couture custom-made clothing in world-renowned fabrics. She established her design business in a townhouse just off Madison Avenue over 30 years ago, where she quickly became the go-to designer of stunning social dresses that perfectly compliment the tastes and figures of celebrities, socialites, and elegant mothers of the bride and groom. Today, the designer dedicates herself to her signature couture collection and special New York clientele in a new space at 988 Lexington Avenue. She continues to create clothing that embraces chromatic luxury using the most of-the-moment fabrics of the world, including iridescent taffetas, brocades, hand fringed British district checks and Celtic tweeds. Moms who wear Lee Anderson Couture tend to pass her name to friends — the perfect fit and luxe fabrics are so flattering, it's hard not to share Lee's love for well crafted, age-appropriate luxury fashion.
For years, Colette Komm's talents were a well-kept secret to NYC brides and socialites, who flocked to her Upper West Side studio for meticulously designed corsets, fluid silk column dresses and striking ball gowns custom created by the Vera Wang patternmaking alum, who, in 2010, was responsible for creating Chelsea Clinton's grandmother's dress for her Rhinebeck, New York nuptials. Since then, Colette has become a couture it-girl of sorts for brides, moms and matriarchs looking for truly couture, elegant social gowns. She works often months in advance, by appointment only, from her Manhattan studio.
Brooklyn-based Elenaor Schain, Ltd has been in business for over 40 years, servicing mothers of the bride with traditional dresses from designers such as Stephen Yearick, Pamela Roland, Rubin Singer and Rene Ruiz, to name a few. The business is currently run by Eleanor's daughters Andrea and Bonnie, who are adamant on "de-stressing the dress process" with competent sales staff and couture-level seamstresses on hand for every appointment. The store offers evening gowns, custom suits and elegant pant sets to suit a range of elevated, but traditional tastes.
Saks Fifth Avenue
From Aiden Mattox to Alexander McQueen (and almost every pricepoint in between), this midtown mecca carries the widest range of designer special occasion dresses in the city.
Moms who want to shyly scour the racks without interruption can snag an embellished, deco-inspired dress from Sue Wong or Tadashi Shoji for under $1,000 on the third floor, while fashionably glam MOBS can shimmy into a sequined signature wrap gown from DVF for an uber-chic look fitting of a rooftop fete. Going to a garden wedding? Saks stocks a vast array of ladylike Erdem dresses in feminine florals. Mom of a ballroom bride? The department store houses a range of silk faille Carolina Herrera gowns, so there's no need to hightail uptown to the designer's atelier. Grandmas can also shop to their heart's content with a range of conservatively elegant St. John's gowns in their designer collections. Whatever her style or budget, changes are mom and Grandma will both find some beautiful options at Saks.
Barneys New York
Fashionable moms in the know flock to Barney's New York for a well-curated assortment of hot, of-the-moment designers, as well as esteemed industry luminaries who are often the focus of many a red-carpet moment. Top mother-of-the-bride lines here include Monique Lhuillier and J. Mendel, both who have their own ateliers only a few blocks away. But the Barneys shopping experience guarantees an edgy buying strategy (think: a fluid, moody merlot one-shouldered gown from Monique Lhuillier or a black and white crepe de chine lace sheath from J. Mendel, that is somehow equal parts modern and ladylike). Moms looking for (just the right about of) bling, can turn to Barney's selection of Huishan Zhang, who is currently dusting his lace and organza gowns with crystal details. Want something mom can truly wear again? Valentino dresses reign high here — from fit and flare LBDs to romantic lace sheaths she'll love long after the wedding day is over.