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By Karen Rempel 
Fashion Editor

The drag queens and fashionistas in The West Village will laugh when you hear about my awkwardness with ballgowns. I may have worn a ballgown when I was seven years old and playing dress-up with my neighbor friend’s lovely box of treasures. Certainly I dressed my Barbie in lovely floor-length gowns when I was a child. But until I moved to New York a couple of years ago, I’d never worn a real grown-up evening gown.

The first two times I wore a floor-length gown to a gala (at the United Nations to honor humanitarian Joe Biden and then at the National Arts Club to honor author John Irving), I was a bit nervous about it. I wasn’t sure how to walk with the long skirt clinging to my legs and a train flowing onto the ground! Unless I did a goose-step to kick the pooling skirt out in front of me before taking a step, I literally had to lift each side of the skirt by hand. It was very difficult to hold up the skirt with one hand and juggle my clutch purse and a glass of champagne, all the while trying to look poised and glamorous. My date didn’t understand that I needed a few moments to prepare myself before walking even a few steps.

WEST VILLAGE MODEL KAREN REMPEL sitting on the stoop in a stunning amethyst ballgown by Engineered by Andrea T (above) and admiring beaded rose purse (right). Photographs by Dusty Berke.

But on a sunny Friday in June, I walked all over The West Village in this gorgeous, rich amethyst-purple gown by Engineered by Andrea T. Of course, I lifted the train on the sidewalks, but hours of picking it up and letting it down, and arranging the gown in every conceivable way during two separate photo shoots, in multiple locations, made me feel like this gown is my best friend. At the end of the day I sat down to relax on the stoop, so happy to have finally learned how to wear formal evening gowns. Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for the next gala!


Silk faille ballgown, fully lined in silk charmeuse. Engineered by Andrea T, 147 West 35th Street (by appointment only).

Vintage amethyst and turquoise bracelet. Mirabelle Boutique, 1310 Madison Avenue. Amethyst bracelet by Susan Blakely Designs, LA.

Black, silver, and rhinestone bracelet. CVS, 475 Sixth Avenue.

7” YRU lace-up goth boots. Trash and Vaudeville, 96 E. 7th Street.

Beaded rose handbag edged with silver studs. Mirabelle Boutique, 1310 Madison Avenue.

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