A LOT CAN CHANGE in 10 years, and even something as stagnant-sounding as a bridal boutique can prove to be no exception.
Designer Elizabeth Dye originally founded the English Dept. as a boutique that devoted only a portion of real estate to wedding wear. That changed when Dye recognized an opportunity, and went full bridal. Modern women didn't want to blow money on something that looked like a cupcake. Prevailing tastes when it came to wedding planning as a whole were about ease and sincerity over bombast.
The English Dept. 2.0 was at the forefront of a bridal culture that seems like it's been around forever, but at one time it truly was an offbeat idea to repurpose Mason jars for a formal occasion. Then in November 2013, Dye sold the shop (her designs can still be found at the store) to Liz Gross, the longtime proprietor of the Xtabay vintage shop, which has its own bridal salon.
After waiting a beat, Gross is reviving the English Dept. runway show, in part to celebrate the 10-year anniversary. She reports that today's brides are less DIY, but they still tend toward unfussy silhouettes, and are very invested in planning the details.
"Ten years ago, bridal was just so boring," says Gross. "There's a lot more going on design-wise." All the more reason to check out their selection—featuring lines from Dye and fellow Portlander Claire La Faye, as well as expat Leanne Marshall—even if marriage is nowhere near the horizon. Another good reason: Proceeds benefit Basic Rights Oregon. "Take Me to Church," First Presbyterian Church, 1200 SW Alder, Mon April 20, 7:30 pm, $10