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Designer Amy Michelson has begin her niche–but it took accident her job to acquisition it.

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Michelson, who created glamorous, adult black dresses for the Los Angeles-based Holly Harp collection, now creates glamorous, adult gowns for her own band of conjugal wear.

But her adventure from point A to point B is not aloof a account of a designer’s comeback; it’s additionally about the complexities of the appearance world–and about alert to your intuition.

In 1989, Michelson, an black abrasion designer-turned-actress (“Falcon Crest,” “Wired”), went to assignment as the abettor to Holly Harp. At the time, Harp was a absolute L.A. artist accepted for adult and adventurous dresses that appealed to celebrities and hip socialites.

When Harp apprenticed breast blight in the mid-’90s, she appointed Michelson her successor. Michelson agitated on the band afterwards Harp’s afterlife in 1995, abacus her own circuit with body-conscious bias-cut gowns in silks and cut velvets that graced the abstracts of Michelle Pfeiffer, Kim Basinger, Alanis Morissette and Emmylou Harris.

Four years later, though, the family-run business would be shuttered. Harp’s ex-husband Jim was sales director, and her son, Tommy, a Wharton Business School graduate, had afresh appear on lath as CEO. But the close “wasn’t his baby,” says Jim Sharp of his son. “I anticipate one of the realities of the appearance business these canicule is that it’s actual adamantine on baby companies. The affairs weren’t so abundant for actuality able to aggrandize quickly, and I anticipate he fabricated the appropriate decision. We had a 31-year run, and that’s a continued time.”

Michelson agrees: “I anticipate there was a lot of pressure, and it was a acute affair to do. Black abrasion was accepting added and added competitive, and a lot of abate food were closing, so there was a shrinking market. There are added [designers] in the game, and pieces of the pie are accepting smaller. Department food acquire a lot of vendors to acquire from.”

*

When the end came on June 1, 1999, Michelson was hit with sadness, but added than that, she was additionally relieved.

“It was a absolutely adamantine schedule. It’s difficult to architecture four to six collections a year, 40 pieces per collection. That’s a lot of zippers and buttons and decisions to make. I acquainted absolutely burnt out. I didn’t feel bitter; I acquainted like it was the appropriate affair to do.”

Friends and ancestors pushed her to acquire job offers, to acquisition article quickly, but Michelson resisted.

“All I knew was that I bare to stop absolutely and go about and be quiet. The abstraction of scrambling to get article is consistently a bad idea, to appear from desperation. I thought, ‘I don’t apperceive what I appetite to do. Maybe it won’t be fashion.’ “

She and her dog, Hannah, aloof for a few months to a friend’s berth in Park City, Utah, area she thought.

And thought.

And thought.

“I kept cerebration it was time to do article new, and I capital to simplify, and conjugal aloof kept advancing to me,” she recalls, sitting in the cozy, candle-lit Sherman Oaks home, which she additionally uses as her flat and office.

She had fabricated some conjugal gowns while at Holly Harp (inspired by her architecture assistant, who couldn’t acquisition a dress she liked), but a blood-warm acknowledgment from buyers hadn’t been encouraging.

*

Yet the abstraction wouldn’t go away. Michelson, in her backward 30s, anticipation she’d accord it addition chance. She larboard Utah, absorbed up with Kyle Riddle, the assembly administrator at Holly Harp, and got a accumulating calm in two months–just in time to appearance to buyers aftermost fall.

This time the acknowledgment was actual different.

“Stores all over the country were saying, ‘I don’t acquire this, and girls are allurement for this.’ The buyers seemed to be accepting it in a way they hadn’t for my aboriginal try.”

Why the change? Michelson chalks it up to an acquired bride.

“I don’t anticipate women appetite to be baffled by the dress as much. The angel fantasy is great, but it’s not so abundant what girls are about today. They’re not marrying Prince Charming; they’re marrying their adult best friend, and they appetite to attending like a sensual, feminine woman. They’re additionally fashion-conscious, and they don’t become bourgeois aloof because they’re accepting married.”

As with her Holly Harp line, Michelson has called her creations: There is the Romanza, a blooper appearance in cottony organza or charmeuse that’s accent with a little amenity and a thigh-high advanced slit. The Awesome Blossom in cottony chiffon has a jewel close and aerial daisies adorning the dress. The Ivory Tower has that “Tattinger albino affiche look,” and Moet is a strapless appearance in cottony chiffon with tiny fair details. Intuition, in cottony charmeuse, has a deep-V advanced and aback and a actual ’40s allure feel. Michelson’s brand bent cut can be begin in several of the gowns.

*

Styles appear in shades of white to ivory and are sleeveless. However, a shawl, absolve or continued blind is accessible for any camouflage needs. Prices ambit from $800 to $1,800.

“Nobody abroad has done this attending consistently,” says Charlene McKay, administrator and co-buyer for the Montclair Accumulating conjugal salon in Santa Monica. “When Carolyn Bessette Kennedy wore that [Narciso Rodriguez] bells dress, anybody was analytic for it, and no one was accomplishing it. There’s been a following for that anytime since. Amy has hit it, and she has an automatic adroitness for these bent cuts. The accent is on assuming the bride, her amount and silhouette, and acceptable the body. These gowns are deliciously sensual.”

With two 20-piece collections a year, Michelson says she’s accomplished a blessed average of actuality accomplished creatively after actuality afflicted by connected stress.

“There’s article absolutely nice about actuality able to accomplish a dress for a helpmate and accord to that day,” she says. “It’s sweet. There’s an absolute industry based on bodies falling in love, and that’s appealing amazing.”

*

Amy Michelson’s Web armpit is at http://www.amymichelson.com.

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