The Perfect Dress (TPD) is not currently in Baku. We know because we spent Sunday visiting every decent shop in the city looking for it.
Thankfully the superstition about bad luck befalling the couple should the groom see the bride in her wedding dress prior to the ceremony does not appear to apply here. We started our search during the trip to Istanbul and came across a couple nearly-but-not-quite gowns in the process. After such a warm-up, we dispatched Baku’s boutiques with military precision.
In addition to local-, Turkish- and Russian-made clothing, Baku actually has a presentable slice of western designer action going on. While the provenances of some of the businesses might not appear wholly transparent, names such as Versace, Armani and Escada do have dedicated shops here and the latter certainly features in the company’s list of boutiques on its official website. There are also a few shops where one can find a range of different design houses represented under the same roof.
The only bit we are not to sure about is how fresh the fashions are. The aforementioned pukka Escada had Autumn/Winter 07 on half price sale and Spring/Summer 08 on show. With the other, less certain shops it is a possibility that back-of-beyond Baku is being used as a last stop offloading point for whatever is left from assorted previous seasons. That would help explain how the majority of places could only offer us something in black when we asked for a dress in light colours for a summer event (and TPD can not be LBD).
Amongst others, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen all found their way into the dressing room that afternoon and we discovered that none had quite managed to produce TPD. We had some fun finding out though. The shop assistants in such establishments clearly have light duties and in each shop without fail they managed to congregate nearby once the dresses were being tried. Some groups actively participated, others feigned disinterest while clearly angling for the best views of the dress being worn. All rather amusing.
For those who have not already guessed, we are not looking for a ‘traditional’ wedding dress (and certainly not a white meringue job) but a rather gorgeous frock that would suit a formal do on a summer’s evening. All this label stuff may sound a bit grand but to be honest, there is nothing offered between that and very low budget clothing that has neither the design nor the build quality to meet the purpose.
Our last stop of the afternoon; as much for my education as anything else; was at a restrained version of the type of shop that specialises in traditional/meringue dresses. The one vaguely attractive gown we saw looked like it could easily be made of nylon. The premises being a rental as well as purchase shop, the garment might well have been used rather than new. The clincher: it would actually have cost more to buy than a far finer dress that we had tried in Escada earlier. I never thought I would find myself saying this (let alone writing it) but let’s stick to the labels.
Some of the shops we visited are expecting their new collections imminently. There is also the opening of a – hopefully authentic – Karen Millen due some time soon. If TPD still eludes us after that, we may have to cast our net a little wider. Either that or cross fingers and seek a good enough seamstress to make a bespoke gown for the occasion. More news is sure to follow.