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During a trip to India in the early Nineties, the model bought an armful of sorbet-colored fabrics and showed them to her friend Marie-Anne Oudejans, the founder and designer of Tocca. She was so taken by the fabric that she whipped up a few dresses, introduced similar styles into the Tocca Collection, set off a dress boom and marked the company's beginning. Christensen, meanwhile, wore them almost every day, and backstage at the shows other models wanted to know where she got them and, more importantly, where they could buy one.
This spring Tocca reintroduced the sari dresses in its Vintage collection, and Butik, a TriBeCa boutique co-owned by Christensen, is one of the select stores selling the $176 dresses. "I thought it was a really neat idea to resurrect these lovely dresses," Christensen said. "It is the kind of dress that appeals to everyone. We have them for little girls, too."
Butik shoppers were scrambling Saturday for the original Eva and Anna styles, as well as a new strapless design and a halter one. Aside from shortening the hemlines slightly, the original designs are essentially the same and are available in bubble gum pink, pale green, magenta, peach, pale pink, turquoise and white. Once word spread that the dresses are being sold again, several women phoned in orders to the store, Christensen said. "It was crazy," she said.
Butik will sell them exclusively this month and will host a Tocca party March 26. Next month Bergdorf Goodman, Rags, C. Orrico and Josephs in London will pick up the women's collection, and Best & Co. and Barneys New York will start selling the girls' dresses.
Christensen's new tie to Tocca is purely a friendly gesture but, separately, she and Butik co-owner Leif Sigersen are looking to revitalize their own signature clothing label, Christensen & Sigersen, that they had for the past year and were selling to other retailers. Unable to keep up with orders, which were coming from all over the world, the pair put the collection on ice to regroup, although a few items can still be found in their boutique. Now they are considering teaming up with an apparel manufacturer or a financial backer. "We were doing everything ourselves — designing the clothes, creating the samples, taking the samples to the sample makers — it was too much for two people. And we had the store to take care of," she said. "I have so much more respect for designers after doing two collections — even more than I had after all those years of modeling."