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Retail Saviors du Jour: Gay Weddings, Michelle Obama

Everybody said the stimulus checks would save retail. The government actually claims it's working: retail sales rose in May. Two other bright lights in retail's future:

Michelle Obama
White House | Black Market, a division of Chico's, was quick to issue a press release to confirm that yes, Michelle Obama was wearing one of its summer dresses on "The View," which she co-hosted Wednesday.

Obama, wife of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has garnered comparisons to former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy for her style, aplomb under pressure, and two daughters, who appear in public as nicely turned-out as their mom. On the program, co-host Whoopi Goldberg noted that Obama is not just a stylish black woman, but a stylish dark-skinned black woman. "Perhaps now you are helping to change a perception," she said. "I just want to say thanks."

Reuters' Brad Dorfman noted: " If Obama could do anywhere near the same, inspiring women to run out and buy a [$148] Tank Leaf Print Dress, for example, it could be a boon for Chico's, which has been in a major slump since last year with same-store sales falling. The company also has seen profits fall and even reported a loss for the key fourth quarter. The women's apparel sector has been depressed for more than a year, hurt by a slumping economy and a lack of compelling fashion."

Personally, I think a Hefty trash bag would look compelling on the five-foot-11 Michelle Obama, who told her View co-hosts, "It's fun to look pretty."

Gay Weddings
The wedding business in California expects a big boost from same-sex nuptials, legal in the Golden State starting Tuesday. Says Women's Wear Daily:

In the next three years, same-sex nuptials could generate as much as $683.6 million in revenue from weddings, hotels, marriage license fees, taxes and other tourism-related activities, according to a study by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law.

Nicole Miller saw bridal sales more than quadruple last week in her Los Angeles boutique. "Both brides are going in to buy wedding dresses," said Bud Konheim, the company's chief executive officer.

The Williams Institute estimates that half of California's 102,639 gay couples will tie the knot by 2011, along with more than 67,500 couples coming in from out of state, and presumably dropping cash in their home cities on clothes and rings as well. Then there's the gift registry:
Tom Blumenthal, owner of the luxury gift emporium Gearys of Beverly Hills, said about a dozen same-sex couples have inquired about registering in just the last two weeks -- some of them famous. ... French- and European-style china, as well as items displaying what Blumenthal described as "exceptional craftsmanship" are especially popular.

"This is definitely not just plain, gold-banded dinnerware like your grandmother had," he said. "We're loving it. It's added a whole new dimension to our clientele."

Holy moley, weddings with TWO BRIDES. And the improvement in design sense that will surely result from gay men's entry into the wedding business can't come a moment too soon.
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