Faviana is expected to finish a prototype by Monday and will either send the sample to one of its factories in China or have it made domestically. The company's version will be in stores within the next eight to 10 weeks. Already, she said, a number of department stores have been calling about when they would receive shipments.
Pumping out celebrity-inspired dresses isn't new for companies like A.B.S., David's Bridal or Faviana. They're used to producing similar versions on tight deadlines of dresses spotlighted at the Oscars or the Emmys. But many say the pressure is much more intense given the enormous interest in the princess and her influence on fashion so far.
Hat companies like Serendipity Tiara have credited Middleton for helping to popularize the fascinator, a feathered hat worn perched on the side of the head. QVC reported it has sold 54,000 units of an affordable copy of Middleton's sapphire ring since her engagement last November. It's priced at just under $40.
Technology has helped speed up the design process. Peter Brown, vice chairman of retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon, says it takes only about 12 hours from design to prototype because everything is digitized and people can communicate through email. Thirty years ago, when companies rushed to copy Princess Diana's dress, it took a couple of weeks.
Designers can also instantaneously pull up photos of Middleton's dress on their iPads, enabling them to get a closer look of the details. That's how Moradi's son Omid, who is also a principal of Faviana, was able to see the details of the gown's Chantilly lace. By 9:30 a.m. Friday, the team was at a local lace supplier buying similar lace.
Fashion companies interviewed said they're not exactly copying every detail of Middleton's gown, but taking elements of the design to make it more wearable — and of course more affordable.
Clearly, Middleton's dress, which had a 9-foot-train, compared to the late Princess Diana's 25-footer, is more easily interpreted for the masses. Moderate-priced fashion companies are using polyester-based satin instead of the more expensive Duchess satin. But for the rest of the details, each company has a different take, though they are embracing the overall silhouette and the long lace sleeves.
Shala Moradi said she would cut the train down to 3 feet and have no lace on the skirt to control the price. She will also modify the bustle in the back to slenderize the bride. The gown is expected to sell for anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000.
David's Bridal's design director Dan Rentillo said that the train would be trimmed some 2 feet to about 86 inches, and it won't feature as much lace on the skirt of the gown. The dress will be priced for under $1,000, he said. A.B.S.' Schwartz said that his version of the gown would have a mermaid train of about 4 feet. He's also trimming the bustle in the back.
"I'm cleaning it up," Schwartz said, "and putting my own spin."
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