Her dilemma? A teenage customer's prom dress didn't fit. "And the prom is Friday!" Gambale said. To top it off, Gambale's adorable one-year-old, Francesca, was late for her nap and in need of a diaper change.
You don't get any more real than that!
Which may be the charm of the new Oxygen docudrama based at Diane & Co., the Freehold, NJ, boutique owned by Gambale's tell-it-like-it-is Italian family. Like their cleavage, this clan tends to reveal all.
Gambale took a load off her five-inch heels to dish before the show's June 1 premiere.
StyleList: There are so many reality shows about Jersey now. How are you different?
Kimberly Gambale: Well, we never intended to be a reality show. We are a close family running a fun dress shop that got discovered by a TV producer who came looking for a mother-of-the-bride dress for her own mom.
SL: So the producer was a happy customer?
KG: Yes! Her mother was having a terrible time. She got hit, literally, by a New York City taxi and was in a wheelchair. She didn't feel good about herself. We gave her the service we are famous for, found her an amazing dress, made her smile, and the daughter said, "I've never had more fun spending $3,000 in my life. What you guys do is amazing. When I come back from my honeymoon, I'm going to come see you and we're going to do a show." I thought she was kidding.
SL: There's been a lot of criticism that these shows give Jersey style a bad rap.
KG: The show you are going to see is about our shop, our family, and what we do, which is very unique. We give a kind of personal service most people have never experienced. I would say 55 percent of the dresses we sell are not to people from New Jersey, so it's anywhere style.
As for the reputation, we're a multicultural state. There are all kinds of people and fashion looks. Some of those things on those other shows may represent what you find here, but it's one style. And it's certainly not my style.
SL: So how would you make over Snooki or J. Woww [from "Jersey Shore"], or Olivia from "Jerseylicious"?
KG: They are fine the way they are! I saw the makeovers the "Jersey Shore" cast did in Harper's [Bazaar] and other places and... I just think the girls are not being themselves. I say a leopard shouldn't change their spots. I like to dress people to suit their style; Goth, rocker, I don't care. Find your style and wear it proud.
SL: You critique Beyoncé's style on the "Jersey Couture" Web site. Why?
KG: She is so glamorous and pure elegance. I love everything she represents. You never see her getting out of a car with her crotch falling out. She is very sexy, but a lady. Always!
SL: You love glamour. Has motherhood changed your style?
KG: Not at all! I wore five-inch heels until the day before I delivered! I don't like the whole maternity-tent thing. On the show, we had a real diva come in to get a dress for her baby shower. I put her in some things that were very form-fitting. The dress she ended up in rocked. She looked amazing. I wore the exact same dress [by Alberto Makali] the whole time I was pregnant.
SL: You are gutsy and tell people they look awful in things. There's no, "Oh, this looks great on you!"
KG: Don't you hate when salespeople do that? After I had Francesca, I needed jeans. I go to a store and the saleslady is like, "Oh, you look amazing in those." I was like, "What are you talking about? I've got muffin top spilling everywhere. They look horrible. And they are $250!" I don't believe in being dishonest. On any given day I've got 5,500 dresses at Diane & Co. If something doesn't look good on you, I am going to find you something else!
SL: You sell so many designers. Who do you wear?
KG: I'm not label obsessed at all, but I l do like my Gucci. My sister [Christina Scali] is completely obsessed with Roberto Cavalli. For day, I like things by Phillip Lim and Nanette Lepore.
"Jersey Couture" premieres tonight (June 1) at 10 p.m. on Oxygen.
In related news, read about Vera Wang's affordable wedding dress line with David Bridal.