LS: Seamstress and authority on wedding, prom dresses
Alice Muhr, a seamstress at Victoria Rose, 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50, has lived in western Colorado her entire life.
She was born and raised in Olathe.
On a recent afternoon, Muhr, 52, enjoyed a decaf nonfat iced white mocha while talking about being a seamstress, what her own wedding dresses looked like, how crazy prom season gets and Barbie dolls.
Mawdsley: How long have you been a seamstress?
Muhr: I’ve been doing this 20-some years.
Mawdsley: What got you started sewing?
Muhr: I had grandmothers. When I was little, I’d get bored, and they couldn’t keep me out of trouble. I’d sew. I didn’t have a store-bought anything until I got out of high school.
Mawdsley: Did you care?
Mawdsley: Do you still make your own clothes?
Muhr: I probably quit making my own clothes in like 1990. Material got real expensive. By the time you spent that much time making it, you just didn’t want to wear it.
Mawdsley: How long does it take you to alter a wedding or prom dress?
Muhr: Probably three hours per dress on average. Right now, I’m averaging about five dresses a week. Probably, here in June, July and August, I’ll be up to 15 dresses a week. That’s when I live in my basement.
I started out part-time for Judy at Victoria Rose. I made the mistake of picking up two dresses one day and taking them back the next day. Then, (owner Judy Panozzo) sent me home with three more, and I took them back the next day. And then, I picked up two more and took them back the next day. That was almost two years ago.
Mawdsley: But you didn’t always work at Victoria Rose, right?
Muhr: I bought Special Affairs in Delta in 1987. I had never worked retail or done anything like that. I learned everything the hard way. I just knew how I would want to be treated if I went someplace, and that’s how I ran the store.
Mawdsley: What made you leave the store behind?
Muhr: I sold it to my niece in 2004. She closed it down in November. It was hard for me. I just threw my heart and soul into that.
Mawdsley: What did she do with all the inventory?
Muhr: I think she has it in a storage shed.
Mawdsley: What did your wedding dress look like?
Muhr: Which one? I’ve been married three times.
No. 1, I was still working at Delta-Montrose Electric (Association) so I had an ivory, lacy Jessica McClintock off the rack. It was the ’70s.
No. 2, I had the store, so it was a big blowout. I had ruffles. It was a mermaid dress. My dress was pink.
No. 3, we got married in Las Vegas, while we were out there for the bridal market, and I just wore a cocktail dress. Kinda light mint green.
Mawdsley: When was that?
Muhr: 2001. (Alice married Ron Muhr)
Mawdsley: Bridal market? Is that like Fashion Week in New York except for bridal dresses?
Muhr: Yeah. Twice a year they have a bridal market. They have it in Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Vegas, L.A., Chicago.
Mawdsley: Whoa. What brides want here they wouldn’t necessarily want in Dallas, right?
Muhr: You gotta watch that. You really have to know your customers. Brides used to be really different here, but (now) what sells in L.A. or Vegas sells here. New people are moving in. It’s not the “hicks from the sticks” around here anymore.
Mawdsley: You’ve probably seen it all when it comes to brides. Any memorable stories?
Muhr: I was mowing the lawn one evening, and I get a call from a bride getting married at Two Rivers Winery.
It was her mom. She said, “We can’t find the bustle straps. Can you come bustle it up for us?”
I drove up there and snuck in the back door, and ran in the bathroom and bustled her dress. She was between her wedding and reception, waiting in the bathroom for me to bustle her dress.
Mawdsley: Wait. Didn’t someone teach her how to do that before her wedding?
Muhr: Everyone got so nervous, they couldn’t have found anything.
Mawdsley: Where were the bridesmaids? Speaking of bridesmaids, what is the protocol for buying bridesmaids’ dresses?
Muhr: My point of view has always been if you have a bridesmaid who has to buy a plane ticket to come to your wedding, then you better supply the dress.
Mawdsley: What about selecting a bridesmaid dress?
Muhr: I like the dresses the girls can wear again.
Mawdsley: Have you ever seen some truly heinous bridesmaid or wedding dresses?
Muhr: None I’ve sold, but when I go to market there are some ugly dresses. They are more of the haute couture dresses that are like $10,000 to $15,000 each that no one would wear.
Mawdsley: What about prom dresses? Are people spending less on prom because of the economy?
Muhr: God no. We had a girl come in and buy a $450 prom dress. Dads are probably the most fun. Hell, they’ll just put the card down there. Whatever their darling wants. I’m so glad I didn’t have girls.
Mawdsley: Did you have dolls?
Muhr: My grandma was a seamstress and three-quarters. She lived in California, so she was always up on the nifty-swifty stuff.
I have to show you the Barbie clothes she used to make me for my Barbies. She would make these evening dresses and bead them, and make them real mink coats. She’d knit these little ski sweaters. I mean, they are phenomenal. I still have all the clothes. I sold my Barbies, but I have the clothes.
Mawdsley: Do have any advice for brides?
Muhr: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Go enjoy the day. If something happens, just laugh it off and go on. You have to have something to talk about, anyway.