What becomes a legend most? If you’re tempted to say mink, think lower rent — as in bathrobe, as in chenille. The nostalgic fabric is what has made one particular robe, manufactured by Canyon Group of Damze Co., TV’s biggest crossover success. A resume:
Credits: The Tracey Ullman Show, The Nanny, Frasier, One Life to Live, Melrose Place, Hope & Gloria, Baywatch, NYPD Blue, General Hospital, Lois & Clark, Friends, Murphy Brown, All My Children, Beverly Hills, 90210.
Original Model: Arguably, the trend began with Ullman, who would end each episode of her late-’80s variety series wearing a Damze. ”My inspiration was Jackie Gleason, who would come out in a [bathrobe] at the end of his show.”
Birth of a Craze: Although Damze Co. makes pj’s, nightshirts, and slippers, it’s their whimsical line of wrap-and-tie robes (which sell for $100 to $130) that has made the biggest splash in Hollywood. In addition to the best-selling Moon and Stars, the campy, overtufted chenille numbers come in some 30 different patterns, including Coffee Talk (coffee cups) and Rise and Shine (breakfast food). Says Damze West Coast sales rep Trevor Riewer: ”People recognize them by TV show. They’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s Alison’s robe on Melrose Place.”’ Melrose costume designer Denise Wingate has gotten calls from as far away as Australia asking where to find it. But the bulk of the credit for turning the cozy comforter into a phenomenon goes to The Nanny. ”During audience warm-ups, the most-asked question after ‘Is that Fran Drescher’s real voice?’ is ‘Where do you get those robes?”’ says Riewer. Nanny costume designer Brenda Cooper uses one in almost every episode: ”I put in shoulder pads for a heightened sense of glamour, so it’s not like a schmatte.” Nordstrom carries many of the styles Drescher wears, and, says a spokesperson for the store, ”interest definitely increases when a TV star wears a certain item.”
Celeb Endorsements: ”Candice Bergen bought four at Bergdorf Goodman for herself, one of which ended up on Murphy Brown,” says Don Chapman, owner of the Tustin, Calif.-based Damze. According to Diane Merrick, a West Hollywood boutique owner, the robes hang in the closets of Cameron Diaz, Faye Dunaway, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Sally Kellerman, and Patti Scialfa (a.k.a. Mrs. Bruce Springsteen). ”She bought tons of ’em,” claims Merrick.