Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Filene's Basement Closing?!

May 2009
I just heard the news that Filene's Basement was bought out by another company and might be closing. The company said that they would still do business under the Filene's name but I am in shock... I can't believe my favorite store might not be around! I have spent countless hours of shopping bliss in this store and the quality and price of their goods is second to none. The best part of Filene's is the annual "Running of the Brides" , a day where designer wedding gowns are on sale for $250 or less and brides camp out over night then storm the store in a shopping frenzy like only hundreds of bargain conscious brides can do.

I attended one year in August at Mazza Galleria in Washington, D.C. off Wisconsin Avenue and it was an amazing sight. Many women were color coordinated some even had team t-shirts with the bride's name on the back. The teams were made up of the bride-to-be's, bridesmaids, moms and future mom-in-laws and in the odd case, a fiance, all hauling 7-10 dresses at a time. They would go to the corner that they staked out, and the bride would quickly throw off her clothing and start trying on dresses. Some wore bathing suits or leotards as their were no changing rooms per say just draping and a few wheeled cloth dividers.

I felt sorry for the few men viewing this spectacle because though you would think it would be fun for a man trying to catch a peek at a boob or a leg here or there but instead all the men look like they were trapped in a horror flick... "Dawn of the Hysterical Budget Conscious Bride" or "Vera Wang Zombie". They were constantly walking outside for breaks then reluctantly returned to the madness. Believe you me, very few men would willingly sign up for this and the men there were either employees who had to be there and fiances who were probably threatened at gunpoint to attend.

I was actually looking for a wedding dress for my sister for her 2005 wedding. I know her size and what she likes and I planned on sketching the dresses I liked and faxing her a copy then she would call me with her choice ( this was way before camera phones were all the rage). I pulled out 5-7 dresses for her by designers like a Carolina Herrera that was normally priced at over $2,500. I picked out only 5-7 dresses because it's the amount of dresses that you can safely carry without tripping on them or dragging and soiling them.

One time, I saw the perfect dress on a 6 ft. rack packed with dresses. I reached out just to touch it and a lady's hand snapped out and stopped me real fast. "That's mine!" "Oh, sorry", I said and shrugged and moved on to the next dress on the rack that I liked but the lady stopped me again. "That's mine too." I looked at the rack and back at the lady...I'm beginning to see a trend here. "Okay, just tell me which one isn't yours and I'll start there. The lady turns to me real calmly and says "The whole rack is mine". I said, "Ma'am, you can not keep an entire rack of dresses for yourself... it's unfair to the other brides". She rolled her eyes at me and pushed the entire rack through the chaos to another part of the store where she kept her eye on it like a hawk, as she shopped for other dresses. Later, I heard one of the Filene's staff stop her and make her choose 5 dresses to go with off the rack then the rack was returned to the general area. The other women jumped on it like piranhas and all the dresses were gone in a matter of minutes.

Now back to shopping. Tips: For those of you who have never shopped for wedding dresses, sizing is important because these dresses come in sizes at least one size smaller than standard fit. My sister is a 4 usually but often buys a size 6 then tailors it but from the cut and look of some dresses I stuck with getting her all size 8's. I even saw a young woman in her early 20's who was the exact built of my sister but a few inches shorter so everything she tried on and modeled I analyzed for the fit and took notes. In fact, I actually found a few good ones for her that I knew my sister wouldn't like (i.e. all the poofy-foofy dresses) but this lady loved them.

Sadly, a few women gave me a scathing "really" look when I picked out dresses from the low dress size racks, being that I'm plus sized. I had to keep telling people that I am shopping for my sister. Luckily, the plus size stuff was beautiful too as was the stuff for the older brides so no one should have felt left out. In fact, there were a few first time brides in their 40's trying on dresses. I put my foot in it with one lady. She had just tried on a beautiful dress and another lady in her early 20's was helping her and admiring the dress. Both women were talking to each other like they were family. As the dress the older woman had on was a bit unconventional in the shade and style, I asked if she was the mother of the bride. Turns out she was the bride and the young lady was the bride's maid of another team whose bride had already found "the dress", so she decided to help this lady. The older lady didn't get ruffled though, instead she was all blushes and giggles. She showed us pictures of her fiance and gushed, "I can't believe I'm getting married!" Her happiness was so infectious that we all gathered around her and lauded how she looked in the dress and some even hugged her (Woman power!). I thank God for showing me that there's hope for us 40+ singles.

What does Filene's Basement have to do with Hollywood, you ask? First, there is a definite docu-drama in the making in this annual event and if I ever do a documentary, this would be it. Also, I have always loved fashion and shopping and have thought of getting into the movie biz through working as a costumer in the wardrobe department or a buyer or set dresser on set. I wrote more on this in my post on the 17th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibit, which shows the costume design of films nominated for best costume for Oscars 2009.

Oh, by the way... my sister went with an absolutely gorgeous dress she bought online and the pics from her wedding ceremony were beautiful. I kept my sketches of the dresses as a memento of this wild event and I've just posted them on this blog.

Update August 29th 2009:

I want to wish my sister and her husband a "Happy Wedding Anniversary!"

Also, the D.C. area just had their Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement! Watch it at

For more info on upcoming Running of the Brides events go to