Curating the dresses of your dreams

A fixture in White Plains for 42 years, Mary Jane Denzer – the luxury clothing and accessories boutique nestled in one of the city’s twin Ritz Carlton Residences – has emerged from the past two years stronger than ever, thanks to its faithfulness and that of its clientele.

You would think that a store that sells couture clothing, particularly for special events, would have struggled greatly during the pandemic and maybe even folded. Indeed some have.

But not Mary Jane Denzer. A fixture in White Plains for 42 years, the luxury clothing and accessories boutique, nestled in one of the city’s twin Ritz Carlton Residences, has emerged from the past two years stronger than ever, thanks to its faithfulness and that of its clientele.

“It was challenging,” says Debra O’Shea, who co-owns the business with Anastasia Cucinella. “We partnered very well with designers. We did not cancel our inventory, so we always had a flow of new merchandise….And that has sustained us.”

“Also,” Cucinella adds, “our clients didn’t cancel anything — only one. It was amazing.”

As a result of that layered loyalty, MJD is taking advantage of social trends, with none bigger than the return of weddings. From intimate backyard gatherings to the still-hot country barn affairs, rustic and romantic, to the full-on weekend destination extravaganza, “our wedding business has come back threefold,” Cucinella says. Clients come from the tristate region and beyond, including Colorado, Florida and Massachusetts, for quality merchandise accompanied by one-on-one service. On the day WAG visits, a mother of the groom drops in to pick up a deep blue cocktail dress whose floral accents enhancing its feminine silhouette. Another woman, a doctor’s wife getting ready for a gala, stuns in a strapless, Wedgwood blue mermaid gown that caresses her sylphlike frame.

Hours are by appointment only. That was a Covid innovation, O’Shea says. But now, she adds, it has become a way to provide “full-on individual attention” at a time when service even in luxe department stores has become sparser and more frustrating, something we have personally experienced.

“People feel safe here,” says Cucinella, pointing to the sleek, silvery-white store’s 5,000-square- foot space.

MJD’s success, however, belies what O’Shea describes as the fashion industry’s “dicey” Covid dance. Europe’s fabric mills have been owned for decades by people now in their 70s and 80s, many of whom closed shop during the height of the pandemic. A lot of seamstresses in the fashion houses are older women whom the virus forced into retirement. Replacing them has not been easy. “Designers are still challenged,” O’Shea says.

Thanks to her and Cucinella’s steady approach, however, MJD is not. The pair have taken on new brands like Maison Common, an 8-year-old German company known for its richly textured, patterned daywear and fanciful ball gowns — another big trend. Cucinella and O’Shea will be at fashion houses in New York City this month, then returning to Paris for the first time in three years this fall, to cull creations for what their elegant website describes as “a fashion museum,” curated by “style mavens and fit fanatics who understand necklines, silhouette, structure, proportions, color, fabrics, drape and body shapes.”

The result? An apparently happy clientele. Or as the gala-going mermaid offers on the way out the door, “You always have the dress of my dreams.”

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