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Plans buzz for 1992's big wedding

The wedding gown, two years in the making, is 280 feet long (train included) and weighs 935 pounds. Though you will not find this particular dress in any shop with a name like Big Women Only or One Size Fits All, it will be on display from June 7-30, draping the 10-story glass wall of the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center in Battery Park City. The gown (white with black trim) and veil (layers of red, pink, mauve and blue tulle 310 feet long and weighing 1,000 pounds) were designed by Antoni Miralda, a 49-year-old Spanish artist who uses only his last name.

The exhibition is the latest and most elaborate event yet in what is known as the Honeymoon Project.

The bride-to-be, 298 feet tall from her pedestal to the top of her torch and 105 years old if she's a day, stands serenely in New York Harbor. Since her arrival from France in 1886, Miss Liberty, as she is best known, has been employed as official host of the harbor.

The Statue of Liberty's bronze-colored, somewhat shorter "significant other" is Christopher Columbus, a Mediterranean sailor two years her junior.

He resides, at the same latitude, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean atop a 180-foot cast-iron column in Barcelona, Spain. They have never met. Nevertheless, their nuptials are scheduled for 1992, 500 years after Columbus' first visit to the New World.

The point of the Honeymoon Project, a seven-year series of public ceremonies conceived by Miralda, is, the artist explained, to "explore the exchange of ideas, customs and goods between the Old World and the New, as represented by the two symbolic monuments."

The wedding is also to be symbolic: Miralda said it was bad luck to reveal too much before the ceremony, but confided that he is thinking in terms of satellites and that the event is to take place in Las Vegas, early next year.

That would seem to be enough time to find a present. But what, after all, is an appropriate gift for someone who requests huddled masses and wretched refuse?

Miralda, who says he is "fascinated by monuments and what they mean to people," is also fond of using food as a medium and once sculptured a miniature Barcelona in chocolate.

He inaugurated the Honeymoon Project in 1986, the year Miss Liberty reached the Big OO and celebrated with a much-publicized face lift. New York's Mayor Ed Koch and Barcelona's Mayor Pasqual Maragall, representing the families of the bride and groom, announced the engagement at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Miralda recalled that Koch was concerned about the cost of the wedding. "Doesn't the groom's family usually pay for these things?" Koch asked. He need not have worried. The World Financial Center Arts and Events Program, with the support of the corporations at the center, is paying the bill.

The events this month at the Winter Garden, all free of charge, will include a display of love letters from Miss Liberty to Columbus written by New York City schoolchildren, performances by Spanish guitarists and flamenco dancers and a gypsy wedding dance.

Since its inception, the project has exhibited the made-to-order bridal garments around the world: her petticoat in Miami, her cape in Philadelphia, her stockings in Tokyo, her shoe (made from a gondola) in Venice.

There has been nothing, however, to compare with the wedding gown, flown in from Paris by Air France, which the bride-to-be will be able to glimpse through the Winter Garden's harbor-facing glass wall.

The gown was constructed, under Miralda's guidance, by students from Ecole Esmod in Paris. The train, representing Miss Liberty's torch, is ornamented with a silver pattern of Columbus' fingerprint.

There are still some 100,000 or so sequins to go; they are being sewn on by art students and other volunteers from New York City. On the cape, Miss

Since its inception, the project has exhibited the made-to-order bridal garments around the world: her petticoat in Miami, her cape in Philadelphia, her stockings in Tokyo, her shoe (made from a gondola) in Venice.

Liberty's name is imprinted in more than 25 languages; Columbus' signature is on the bridal veil.

There are, of course, wedding rings, too. They are to be displayed on the Winter Garden's impressive marble staircase. Cast in bronze and designed by Chus Bures of Madrid, they are the size of life preservers, not exactly inappropriate for rings filled with water from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Cantabrian seas.

"Barcelona helped out Columbus financially and we gave him a big reception when he returned from his first trip to the New World," the artist said.

"It is only fitting we celebrate the union of these two powerful symbols."

Why is the wedding scheduled to take place in Las Vegas? The city, Miralda said, is "a total fantasy, strange, wild, therefore logical."

And why, he was asked, is the wedding gown made of polyester rather than, say, silk?

"Polyester is a symbol of the New World," he said.

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