My name is Eboni Marshall Turman, Phd. I am 30 years old and I currently serve as the Assistant Minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
The search for the perfect dress began the moment I said, “I do.” I knew that the time between my then-fiance’s proposal and our wedding day would be one of the most special times in my life. I had to find the perfect dress…but I had no idea where to start, especially given the breadth of bridal salons in New York City that are advertised ad nauseum in just about every bridal magazine you can find. After griping about the huge task set before me to my then husband-to-be, he simply said, “Why don’t you go to Amsale? You know she’s the best!” After consulting with some friends and friends-of-friends (just to make sure that my husband-to-be was right and actually did know what he was talking about), I knew that my search would have to begin at Amsale. My husband’s assistant actually scheduled my first appointment with Amsale while I rounded up my mother and my closest friends (the dress entourage!) to come with me for this soooo-important occasion.
I have to admit that when I walked into Amsale I was overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of the dresses that lined the walls of the boutique. The diverse staff was extremely warm and friendly. The boutique itself was was quiet, remarkably clean, and of a mangeable size. Linda smiled warmly at me, made a quick, yet precise mental note, and then encouraged me to feel free to try on whatever I liked and so I quickly began to pull dresses one after the other and take them into the fitting room. As I prepared to start trying everything on, Linda walked in and simply said, “Here, try this one first.” It was a dress that I hadnt seen hanging up and probably would have never pulled for myself. But I decided to give it a shot. I put the dress on and walked out into the sitting area where my “dress entourage” was waiting for me. When they saw me, they were all speechless…until finally my maid of honor, Joyce, said, “That’s the one!”
I must admit that I knew it was “the one” instantly too! It had me written all over it: “The Fashionista.” A strapless, mermaid cut gown…white tulle, elegant fit. It was perfect! But I could not understand how Linda could find “the perfect dress” for me with just one glance. I have heard nightmare stories about brides trying on hundreds of dresses to find “the one” and the first dress I tried on at Amsale (that I did not even pick out, but that was picked for me by Linda) was the one! Unbelievable!!! I was in total disbelief and thought that there is no way that I could be this lucky (or maybe that the ladies at Amsale are just that good?)!!!
I must admit that I felt like I had to try on more dresses, just because that’s what a bride is supposed to do, right? But after trying on a few more Amsale gowns and making my way to another bridal salon (that I should never have wasted my time with), I knew that no matter how many more gowns I tried on and no matter how many more bridal salons I visited, my perfect dress, the wedding gown I had always dreamed of, was the very first dress that I tried on at Amsale. Thanks Linda, you are a gem!
Amsale took over the Christos collection with the blessing of the man who shares it’s name, Christos Yiannakou.
Brides who come to the salon to shop for their gowns seldom understand the connection between Amsale and Christos. As her mentor, Christos, who enjoyed a long and fruitful career, had to essentially trust Amsale with his name. And Amsale, ever the perfectionist, does not take this bequest lightly. Of course she is honored that she has his blessing to attach her name to Christos, but there is a lot about the relationship between the brands that makes her nervous, too. For instance, like any collection, it has to evolve. Fashion is never at a standstill, and never less so in these fast moving times of ours. How to keep the collection moving forward while keeping the original spirit alive? The Amsale collection is a bit more effortless for Amsale (maybe yes, maybe no–it is her namesake collection, after all!) but the pressure for her to produce the Christos line must be immense. Still, Christos himself is always invited to the show, so at some point Amsale must trust that she will make good in the eyes of her former mentor.
Christos was not disappointed. Initially silent (moved, perhaps?) Christos came to Amsale backstage and raved about her use of fabrics, texture, and dimensions of the gowns. Not overly gushy, but I suspect it was quite the accolade for Amsale.
I remember the first time I worked as a dresser for an Amsale show–It was so exciting! At first I was a bit bummed that I couldn’t relax and watch from the seats, but it ended up being much more fulfilling to be part of the backstage flurry. The first time you’re enlisted to help with the show, it’s adrenaline city, down to your impossibly fumbly fingertips, as you wonder whether you will be able to undress and redress the model in time for her run of show. And of course, Like Kori, you get the “complicated” dresses with fancy snaps, bows, and ties. Or your model’s change of shoes disappears. It’s high drama, baby, but the results are totally worth it!
Out of the Shadow
Kori had a challenging few weeks taking in as much as possible while shadowing us in appointments and getting to know 39th Street and what goes into producing the new line. Now she finally has the chance to relax a bit and work with someone she knows well—Melissa, the cousin of Kori’s husband is at the salon to shop for a bridal gown. Lauren takes the appointment and an out-of-uniform Kori joins them. Little by little, as they get closer to the look Melissa wants, Kori starts offering up more and more information about the dresses. Melissa really didn’t know what she wanted going in, but between Lauren ‘s expertise and Kori’s prompting, we’re approaching our final destination. Finally, Kori pulls a gown off the rack and asks Melissa to humor her and try it on. Perhaps you can guess what happens next? It turns out to be “the dress!” The “Cagney”, with it’s beautiful metallic jacquard fabric and classic cut was perfect, and never would have been tried on were it not for Kori! It seems that all that shadowing of appointments was not in vain! It feels like Kori’s really learning the ropes!
Sam’s job at Amsale is manyfold. She is officially the Operations Manager, but that title encompasses many things which are not traditionally a part of operations. She is a pinch hitter for bridal appointments on busy days or when there are unexpected walk-ins, and is fitting manager and merchandise manager as well. I have a particular appreciation for her other role–as drinks coordinator for the Amsale Girls, as her taste in the finer things is unparalleled. She always seems to know where the best happy hour is to be had, and who has the best wine selection. With an uncanny knack for finding deals and always having a coupon on hand to take advantage of those deals, Sam is a mixed bag of extravagance and practicality. She is often the voice of reason when things get stirred up at the salon, and is the steadfast Sancho Panza to Debbye’s whimsical Don Quixote. When Debbye volunteers Kori to work at 39th Street for market on an especially busy weekend at the salon, guess who is the one that picks up the slack? Debbye herself gets to leave the salon that weekend and watch the shows as a “buyer” of the new collection. Sam will have to be the concierge that weekend and deal with whatever else comes up. There is no other backup.
Luckily there’s a lot of love between them, and Debbye will always be forgiven for putting more on Sam’s capable shoulders. Hopefully Debbye knows what she has in Sam, and while she is off getting the glory, she is thanking Sam for taking care of the guts of the business. A “thank you” is always appreciated…