A model walks the runway a dress by Alfred Angelo in 2014. On Friday, the wedding dress designer abruptly closed all its stores across the country.
(JP Yim / Getty Images)
The fate of wedding gowns bound for the Chicago area is in limbo following news that bridal dress company Alfred Angelo is planning a bankruptcy filing and shuttering shops nationwide.
For many brides with approaching wedding dates, the clock has long run out for ordering their dresses, a process that can take months.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the company is closing shops and has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company did not respond immediately to a request for comment from the Chicago Tribune.
Eva’s Bridal pulled all of the Florida-based chain’s dresses off the floor of its Oak Lawn shop, owner Ronia Ghusein said Friday.
"We’ve gotten a lot of calls from not just our customers … praying that their gown is not an Alfred Angelo," Ghusein said.
Alfred Angelo has given no indication as to whether ordered gowns will be delivered, Ghusein said. Her shop and others in the Chicago area are scrambling to make sure their customers aren’t left without a wedding dress when their big day comes.
"We were as sideswiped by this as the brides," she said. "It just came out of nowhere."
Manufacturers and other Alfred Angelo competitors, such as David’s Bridal, are offering discounts on dresses and rush delivery.
The shutdown isn’t just sending brides into a panic. Alfred Angelo also designed the often distinctively colored bridesmaid dresses that complete the attire for the wedding party.
Camille Francia, owner of Francia Bridal Fashions in Downers Grove, was fielding calls all day Friday from worried customers, including five bridesmaids who had ordered their dresses for an October wedding.
One of the bridesmaids already received her dress from another retailer, leaving the other four, who ordered from Francia, desperately seeking a color match.
"The color name is mahogany," Francia said. "Now we’re trying to outfit four other girls as close to that color as we can, with a different company."
Accompanied by her mother, one of the dressless bridesmaids came to the store Friday afternoon searching through swatches. They settled on a cranberry-colored dress from another designer.
"It’s about the same," said Francia, who is applying the money the bridesmaids paid for the Alfred Angelo orders to the new dresses.
Brideside, a Chicago-based online retailer with a shop in the West Loop, is offering refunds to customers who ordered Alfred Angelo dresses June 30 or after. Brideside also handled Alfred Angelo’s online sales. About 1,500 orders were affected, company co-founder Nicole Staples said.
"We’ve been led to believe that actually none of these orders, even the orders that were en route, will be able to be filled," Staples said. "We feel we need to provide (customers) solutions and answers now."
The shops are hoping for official word on the ordered dresses soon.
"You don’t ever want to mess with a woman’s wedding gown," Ghusein said.