For almost 30 years, L’élite Boston has been known as one of the city’s premier bridal salons. Providing everything from Carolina Herrera to custom-made gowns, L’élite is the perennial favorite of Bostonians in the know. We spoke with Salwa Khoory, co-owner of L’élite, which first opened in 1984 in Boston’s South End. Now, it’s a Newbury Street staple.
Southern New England Weddings: Is it better to shop for a bridal gown with a big group or alone?
Salwa Khoory: It’s different for everyone. For example, sometimes the mother lives far away, so the girl comes and browses with one friend or cousin, or sister, and then afterward the mother comes for the second visit. Sometimes, with technology now, they can do Skype wearing the dress, and the mother gives the opinion. Sometimes they come in a big group, which can be helpful, but sometimes it’s not because when you come with many, many girls, everybody has an opinion so you get lost. If you want to come for fun and have fun in the city, that’s a different sort of thing. But to choose a dress, it’s good if you know who understands you well.
SNEW: Why is it better to shop at a smaller bridal salon rather than a huge department store?
SK: When you go to big stores where they have over 500 dresses, you get lost. To have a consultant with you, it’s much easier, because she will help you to dress, answer your questions. And maybe the dress you’re trying on is not your size, so when the consultant is with you she’ll pin the dress, show you how it’s going to look when it’s your size. That’s why sometimes we get customers who come and buy a second dress from here, saying, ‘We didn’t have a good experience’ [elsewhere] because they decided under pressure of price or time or the consultant. I like the bride to not get confused. Try to concentrate, and you will find the dress very easily because you know what you are doing. It’s not how much you try. It’s not the quantity. It’s the quality.
SNEW: How many fittings should a bride have after selecting her bridal gown?
SK: The dress comes standard length, and sometimes we need only to do the hem and the bustle. But sometimes the proportion of the body doesn’t match
the proportion of the size chart, so we need to take it in, or sometimes they’re losing weight or gaining weight. Usually we do two fittings plus a checking. But if there is changing of style, if the bride for example wants to add some ideas on the dress, like beading, or make the waistline higher or lower, for those we need to have another fitting, or another two fittings. We want to be sure the bride will be satisfied.
SNEW: Are many brides these days choosing two different dresses? One for the ceremony and one for the reception?
SK: Sometimes we call it the goodbye piece, which is for the last dance. In the last half-hour she disappears, and she changes into a different dress. Especially for someone who wants to wear the family dress, or they want to combine two dresses. They like to have a sentimental dress, plus their dream dress.
SNEW: What if brides need last-minute steaming or pressing?
SK: We do in-house steaming and pressing. Even hotels count on us. They call us many times for help. And we like to do that, because Boston is a good city, and we are surrounded with very good hotels. We don’t want the dress to go out of the room of the hotel, so we send somebody, or they bring it, and we take care of it here and we send it off.
Story by Megan Johnson