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 Fashion Showcase with Prom, Pageant, and Social Occasion Gowns
WebWatch

Gown Manufacturers
By Rafi Pérez

These sites will make your prom, pageant, and social occasion gown shopping a breeze

In the past, when your mother went shopping for a prom gown for the first time, she might have had an idea of what she was looking for, something she’d seen on a fashion runway or at a celebrity red-carpet affair, and thought, “I wonder if I would look good in that?” Her second question would have been, “I wonder what a gown like that costs?”

Today, with the advent of web sites dedicated to some of the world’s leading formal fashions, that’s hardly your problem. Just the opposite: You have so many online options at your fingertips, with thousands of dresses waiting to be touched, tried on, and purchased, that you may feel overwhelmed. This particular Webwatch is intended to point you toward some of the very best gown manufacturers with the track records of award-winning success that will allow you to quickly narrow your search and shop with confidence.

Pageantry works with the nation’s leading gown design and manufacturing companies, and the result of that partnership can be seen elsewhere in this issue with the 2005 Pageantry and PromTime Fashion Showcase, and also on our prom fashion site, www.promtime.info, where you will be able to find photos of all the showcase designs, as well as web links to the specific companies which manufacture the dresses (if they have published web sites). What follows are brief descriptions of the sites, with helpful tips on navigation, features, and other site amenities that await your visits.

 

Maria’s Collections
by Putros Couture :
www.mariascollections.com

Maria’s Collections is the prom division of Putros Couture. The 2005 collection is already available as well as their previous collection. Their gowns are presented in generously large thumbnails when you look at them initially, and each is pictured with the style number under it. When you click on each gown you go to a large view of the front and back, style number, and available colors are listed underneath along with available sizes. Credit applications and order forms are also available online in PDF format; you simply download the form you need, fill it, and fax it or mail it in. If you would like to receive a free catalog, you can request one easily by filling out their online form.

Their extensive store locator is categorized by state and includes phone numbers for all locations. Every page includes a direct link to email them, the toll-free number, and navigation to all other sections of the site.

Maria’s Collections and Putros Couture have become a sought after resource for pageant, social occasion, informal bridal and prom dresses. They guarantee the highest quality selection, combination of embroidery, and beading. But these collections are really about their unique designs, illusions, cuts and openings, added to the unique appeal of Maria’s Collection and Putros Couture.

 

Alyce Designs : www.alycedesigns.com

Alyce Designs’ web site greets us with a beautiful side show that features their designs. Click on the link to their collections and you are presented with six different collections to choose from. The very first collection on the list, near the top of the page, is “Alyce Prom.” Great for us—just the designs we are looking for. Do look at the other beautiful collections—with so many dresses to choose from, you can find a gown that is perfect for you in one of their collections.

The gowns for all of Alyce’s collections are presented in a layout that’s easy to navigate. Clicking on any gown will display it quickly in a detailed page. You can look at the same dress in different available colors, different angles, and you can pop up a window with a large view of each dress. Each page has links to size charts, a search field that lets you search by the style number assigned to each dress, and you can even save dresses you like as favorites and email them to your friends and family. Local retailers are easy to find by clicking on “Find a Store.” You even get links to your local retailers’ web sites and links to email them directly if either is available.

 

Mystique : www.mystiqueprom.com

Mystique is the prom division of Bonny MT. Your first look of Mystique’s gowns are the upper-torso thumbnail images you’ll see on the gowns page. These images are big enough to see detail and get a firm grasp of what they have to offer. When you pick the gown you prefer and click on its thumbnail for a larger view and more information, you are greeted by two images of the dress that are about 5½ inches by 8 inches showing the gown in great detail and the back view as well. This page also includes the style number for each dress, the fabric, color options, and available sizes.

All of these pages have a link to their fabric color swatches and to the store locator. Their store locator lets you search for locations based on the type of dresses that you are looking for; you can search separately for locations who carry their Bridal collections, their Prom Gowns collections, and their Pageant and Ladies Formal Wear collections. Navigation on their site is easy, with drop down menus near the top of all pages; from which you can visit and read information about the company, the informative FAQ section, or request a catalog online.

 

Anna Scott Designs : www.annascottdesigns.com

Anna Scott’s web site gives you the opportunity to quickly see their top sellers by including a link to a page which shows you their top-selling dresses. These are presented in a very effective layout consisting of generously large thumbnails, each with an inset showing the back view of the dress. When you click on one of these you are taken to a separate browser page where you can see a much larger version that is clearly labeled with the style number and a button to close this new window. This presentation scheme is also how they present their 2005 Prom & Pageant collection, however when you click the thumbnails on this collection you are taken to a page with more details about the dress such as available sizes and colors before you can go see the large version where all the design details can be appreciated.

When you find the dress that is perfect for you, click on the link to their store finder to see who is the nearest retailer that can provide you with your dress. The locator page includes all the retailers on one page and is alphabetized by state.

 

Party Time : www.partytimeformals.com

The Party Time Formals web site greets you with a collage that features their beautiful gowns, and from there you can go and see their different collections. There are direct links to the Prom/Pageant line, the Princess Collection, or their Suits collection right below the collage, or you can use the ever-present “Select Catalogue” drop down menu at the top left of the page. This menu will be there for you in case you want to browse other collections and it lets you quickly do so. While browsing their collections, you will notice a search field; if you already know the style number of the gown you want, you can enter the style number of the dress you want and you will go there directly at this time. Each collection is presented in groups of 6 thumbnails, most of which show the front and back views of each dress and two of the available colors. Clicking on each thumbnail will pop up a window with a larger view of the same shot that you saw in the preview. These large-view windows all have a description of the dress, available sizes and colors, and a link to the very handy size chart. This chart is clear and easy to read, and it includes helpful measuring instructions and alteration notes.

Party Time formals has plenty of options for you to choose from— the Prom/Pageant line alone features 140 dresses, and the Princess Collection features 51 dresses. When you find the gown you are looking for, the “Store Locator” will help you find a retailer in your area.

 

Attitudes by Debra : www.attitudesbydebra.com

Attitudes by Debra’s web site features the complete catalog plus more than 230 of their gorgeous gown designs. The extensive thumbnail listing features previews large enough to get an idea of the available styles, and clicking on each thumbnail takes you to a page with much larger photos where it’s easy to see the details of each design. The layout featuring multiple dresses per thumbnail and per large-image page will save you time if you plan on looking at every dress.

The site also features a very thorough store finder that is organized by state—it even includes stores in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and The Bahamas. Simply click on your state’s name and see all the retail store listings for that state. If no retailers are available in your area, there’s a “super link” to stores that can order your dress and deliver it right to your home; a feature that you can also use if you know what you want and you would prefer to have it delivered to your home.

 

Riva Designs : www.rivadesigns.com

The Riva Designs’ web site opens with a brief Flash animation in which stars “shower” over the logo. You are then transported to their home page. The home page has links to go to their 2004 Catalog, their Store Locator, their Contact page, or their information page. Happy-bouncy flowers follow your pointer when you roll your mouse over the links—a very nice touch.

The catalog layout and functionality is set up differently than most fashion sites I’ve visited. The catalog has 13 pages with thumbnails of eight gown designs on the bottom left of each page. When you click on a particular design, a larger view of the dress magically appears in a frame on the previously inactive space to the right of the thumbnails, and a smaller frame showing the detail of the back of each dress rolls along the main frame and quietly stops near waist height so it’s easy to visualize the effect. To browse through dresses you can click on the thumbnail for each dress or you can use the back/forward arrows next to the large dress views.

 

Avanti designs : www.avantidesign.net

Avanti designs’ web site is very clean, elegant, and focuses on their fabulous gowns. The site has links to main areas based on their collections, which are “Evening,” “Special Occasion,” “Informal,” and “Bridal” (the latter links to Avanti’s parent-company web site Private Label by G, featuring their Ginza bridal collection.)

Any one of their sections is a great place to start and navigation to another section is always just a click away on the top portion of the screen. Browsing through their collections is easy and each dress is clearly labeled by ID number. Clicking on each dress pops up a window with a large view of the dress, a button to print the large view of the dress, and the option to send the dress as a postcard. We love that this site also features digital postcards. This allows you to send your favorite Avanti Design dresses to anyone as an email. It’s free and easy, and a great way to share the perfect gown.

The “Find a Store” area provides results in alphabetical order, and you are even provided links to an online map service that makes it easy to find their gowns in your area.

 

Studio 17 : www.studio17.biz

Studio 17 is a division of Tiffany Designs. Their website greets you with a double-take on one of their gorgeous gowns seen from the back to showcase the delicate detail of this dress. Look under their logo on the top left to find the navigational links that are always found in the same location and help you find your way around the site. There are links to the home page, to the Store Locator, to the FAQ section, to the collections list, and to the UPS order tracking page.

The Spring 2005 collection is already available and it presents 40 thumbnails in mixed layouts for a grand total of of 75 dresses in this collection. The Fall 2004 - Prom collection features 53 thumbnails showing 22 dresses from multiple distances and angles.

 

Claire’s Collection : www.clairescollection.com

First things first. When you visit the Claire’s Collection web site, you’ll want to go on “The Gallery” area first to see their designs. Plenty of great gowns to see here, with page after page of their designs. The “Fashion Show” area has gowns from runway shows and you can see multiple images on the same page. To see Claire’s dresses in action, click on their “Video” link, which features a video of their dresses worn at pageants, and worn by celebrities, television stars, actresses, and models at the Grammies and Oscars. You will need QuickTime to view this video, and there are two version available for different internet connection speeds.
The web site for Claire’s Collection proudly showcases the gowns they have designed for celebrities. After the intro splash page we see Cindy Crawford, who is the latest Supermodel to don their gowns, and the first of many Hollywood divas featured wearing Claire’s gowns on their site.
The site includes other sections with interesting content such as “Fashion Tips.” Plenty of good advice on such topics as bridal gowns, color trends, and an impressive array of their pageant gowns on winners and celebrities. Catch up on the scene with “The Dish” area, where you can read their take on celebrity fashion trends.

 

Tiffany Designs : www.tiffanydesigns.com/
collections.asp

Tiffany Designs is an exclusive line distributed by specially selected retail stores. Their site features a large inventory of their designs, providing links to their Spring 2005 Flower Girl Catalog, Spring 2005 Catalog. Fall 2004 Catalog, Spring 2004 Catalog, Spring 2004 Flower Girl, and Fall 2003 Collections. Like Studio 17, their online catalog is an adaptation of their printed catalog and features a large number of photos in mixed layouts with front and a back views of the gowns. Tiffany also offers a different approach to the store finder. First you select your state in the list menu, then it offers a second menu so you can select which city you are in or nearest to.

When you click on a thumbnail of a dress you are interested in, you go to a very large view of the gown (approximately 7 inches by 9 inches), with each dress labeled with its corresponding number an color. From here you can continue browsing their catalog using the previous/next links, or use the navigation at the top to go to a different section of the site such as “Frequently Asked Questions,” and “Online Services.” The “Online Services” area is for retailers only. This is a powerful service for retailers and allows them to check inventory, place orders, and check confirmations.

 

La Femme : www.lafemmefashion.com

La Femme’s web site has a very sophisticated look and it also has the Prom collection at the very top pf their list of links on their home page. This collection features 54 designs and the thumbnails are small photos of the models silouhetted against the white background—a very clean look. When you click on one of these dresses you go to a page with a very large front and back of the dress view of the selected dress. However you stay on the same browser page—no pop up windows here.
The store locator lets you enter your zip code, and the search engine will display the search results that are closest to you. You can also enter a style number and the search engine will display the stores that carry the dress you prefer.

 

The Crown Collection : www.thecrowncollection.com

The Crown Collection is a division of Bonny MT. Your first look of their gowns are the upper-torso thumbnail images you’ll see on the gowns page. These images are big enough to see detail and get a firm grasp of what they have to offer. When you pick the gown you prefer and click on its thumbnail for a larger view and more information, you are greeted by two images of the dress that are about 5½ inches by 8 inches showing the gown in great detail and the back view as well. This page also includes the style number for each dress, the fabric, color options, and available sizes.

All of these pages have a link to their fabric color swatches and to the store locator. Their store locator lets you search for locations based on the type of dresses that you are looking for; you can search separately for locations who carry their Bridal collections, their Prom Gowns collections, and their Pageant and Ladies Formal Wear collections. Navigation on their site is easy, with drop down menus near the top of all pages; from which you can visit and read information about the company, the informative FAQ section, or request a catalog online.

 

Landa Designs : www.landadesigns.com

Landa Designs’ web site features all four of their design collections: Pageant, Social Occasion, Bridal, and Bridesmaid. A handy navigation list on the left side is always present, and Ciré at the very top is where you’ll find the Landa prom designs. There are abundant gowns to choose from in this line. The gowns are presented together in small photos which represent pages from their catalog—making it easy to find that special dress that you saw in their catalog. Click on one of these thumbnails to view larger photos of the gowns complete with style numbers, a drop-down menu with color options for each style, and links to the pop up size guide page. This page also features “size picker,” a useful chart to help you decide which size is the best for you—it even includes guidelines for determining your best fit for a particular design style of dress.
Their store finder is very speedy and easy to use. Simply click on your state’s abbreviation and you will instantly see a list of all the retail stores in that state. It is also very thorough, and it shows store listings for locations in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Victor Rossi : www.victorrossi.com

Victor Rossi’s web site is for the woman looking for elegant, yet functional designs that are appropriate for prom, pageants, and many other formal occasions. Victor Rossi presents his catalog in an orderly fashion with large sized thumbnail images which let you click to see a larger view. Clicking on the thumbnails will bring up a window with details about the dress such as the style number, and the model name. These windows have links to zoom in on the dresses and see them full-screen. They have fully embraced e-commerce by including links to e-mail the design team, e-mail for more information, and e-mail to order.

Victor Rossi gowns have been worn at all major pageants including Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe. Victor Rossi is also becoming a new alternative for celebrities, actors and actresses looking to create impact for their appearances. Victor Rossi is poised to become a major player in the world of fashion.

The “Design Center” section features an online form requesting your personal details and measurements. Their talented design team will create a custom gown for you based on the design of your choice, with an 18-point measurement chart and illustrations on how to measure each area.

The above sites, along with the www.PromTime.info web site, are wonderful places to search for the gown of your dreams. A good thing to do when you visit these manufacturers’ sites is to print out the page of the gown you’re interested in and take it to your local retail store. This printout, with the gown photo, style number, sizes, and color choices available, is a great way to ensure you get exactly the dress you want for your next big event.

Rafi Pérez is the Art Director for Pageantry magazine.

 

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