The Good Life: Red-Carpet Special

Get ready for this month's Academy Ball in style

With Philly rolling out the red carpet for the 150th-anniversary Academy Ball on the 27th, pressure's on for the city's Best Dressed to get the perfect gown. For the inside scoop on all the dressing-room drama, we turned to Mary Helen Ranieri, who took over Ardmore's legendary Suky


With Philly rolling out the red carpet for the 150th-anniversary Academy Ball on the 27th, pressure's on for the city's Best Dressed to get the perfect gown. For the inside scoop on all the dressing-room drama, we turned to Mary Helen Ranieri, who took over Ardmore's legendary Suky bridal and dress shop last year — and converted Haddonfield's Shimmer into a second Suky outpost.

How did you get started in the dress business?
After I bought my wedding gown at Suky Rosan, I thought, Why do all the Jersey girls have to come to Pennsylvania to find wedding dresses? So in 1990 I opened Bridal Garden in Voorhees.

Was it intimidating to take over the store after Suky Rosan made such a name for it?
I never want to change the great reputation Suky had. I just want to make the new Suky more updated. And I really want this to be the mega special-occasion place — not just bridal.

We know Suky matched her brides and salespeople by compatible astrological signs. What pre-appointment work do you do?
No astrology, unfortunately. We take appointments over the phone, then e-mail the customer a survey to get a sense of what she has in mind.

With an event like the Academy Ball, how do you make sure that two women don't buy the same dress?
In a lot of cases, we only have one of each dress. We also keep track of what occasion a dress is bought for.

So what do you do when a woman thinks she looks great in something but really … doesn't?
You have to step in and tell someone when her boobs are not in the right place or things like that — but there's a fine line to doing it without being offensive. People are very sensitive, and everyone has body issues. We empathize with them, because really, we all have different levels of the same problems.

Suky, 102 East Montgomery Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-3686, and 200 East Kings Highway, Haddonfield, 856-616-9000; sukyoccasions.com.

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