CHICAGO — Gold, in all its forms, attracts the eye like nothing else. Sparkling silver is stylishly distinctive, too.
Nowhere is this more true than in the fashionable, upscale finery that adorns today’s well-to-do.
Garments of fine weave fit for a dinner with dignitaries; glittering gowns swathed in sequins to be “oohed” and “aahed” at during the ball; and unique outfits for those special moments in a person’s life must all be maintained and cleaned with the utmost care and perfection.
“Couture cleaning is a very specialized field in dry cleaning,” says Dan Del Rossi, who owns Tiffany Couture Cleaners in Las Vegas. His family-owned and -operated business has been serving Las Vegas for more than 45 years, servicing entertainers and shows on the Las Vegas strip, and other affluent clients.
“It is a hands-on, individual, and delicate process that is dealt with on a garment-by-garment basis,” says Del Rossi.
Specialist dry cleaners who work with only the finest raiments know all about the exquisite nature of couture garments and how to carefully and professionally clean them.
“In today’s market, most couturiers include ready-to-wear items that are immediately accessible to the client,” explains Angel Suarez Sr., owner, Rey’s Cleaners, Miami. His family-run business has been cleaning high-end fashions for 40 years.
“These are unique garments that have a limited production, and have been manufactured using the most exquisite fabrics and embellishments,” he notes. “Not all couture items today have been on the runway, and many times the term ‘couture’ is used very loosely.”
His company dedicates itself to the art of making garments look and feel new again.
“We use the most advanced techniques in cleaning and offer various methods of cleaning and solutions. The detergents and solutions we use in our process are far superior and more costly than those typically used in the industry.
“Our attention to detail and knowledge of stain removal and a real sense of appreciation for the garments we care for sets us apart.”
Suarez says his company’s heritage is rooted in a dedication to excellence and an unrivaled knowledge of the finest garment care methods and techniques.
“We have been servicing South Florida’s most discerning clients for three generations,” he says. “Our services extend from Ocean Reef in the south to the Palm Beaches in the northeast of Florida.”
Experience in care and cleaning of exotic fabrics is a major part of couture. But there is still more to the picture. These specialists, like their clients, have a well-earned, carefully cultivated reputation.
Cleaners of couture such as these businesses, and no doubt others in this market segment, all possess a key characteristic: the careful and trusted cleaning of fine, delicate show-piece garments.
“Many times we are presented with couture garments that other cleaners could not clean, would not clean, or did clean and nearly ruined,” says Del Rossi. “Tiffany Couture Cleaners is known as the cleaner of the stars.”
He says it’s always fulfilling to have a new customer come in with a garment damaged by another cleaner and then amaze them by restoring the garment to like-new condition.
“The couture drycleaning market is a very small segment of the overall drycleaning market but offers a unique opportunity for a company like ours who possesses the experience, knowledge, and the proper equipment to service the expensive, high-end garment,” Del Rossi says.
The clothing itself is special in its own way.
“To be labeled ‘couture’ or to become a ‘couturier,’” Suarez explains, “a designer must be certified by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (the Paris-based executive body for this haute couturier federation, comprised of more than 100 name-brand international garment companies) and have designed for private clients with one or more fittings.
“A designer must also have an ‘atelier’ (French for ‘workshop’ or ‘studio’) in Paris; and, each season, present a collection that is comprised of a number of looks, both for night and day.”
Suarez mentions that in this high-end market, he has seen many beautiful and exotic garments, originals and one of a kind: Gucci, Chanel and Versace, to name a few.
He shares this memorable customer story: “When we served as the in-house dry cleaner for the Victoria’s Secret Runway Show at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, we had to clean all of the garments worn in between shows with a makeshift plant consisting of portable spotting tables, finishing stations, and tailors ready to make everything look new again.”
He’s also proud of “The time we were entrusted with the care of Princess Diana’s traveling exhibit.” That’s top-end fashion cleaning responsibility of the highest order.
There are high-fashion stories from all over, not just Las Vegas and Miami but Chicago as well.
“It’s always fun when we get to do special jobs for celebrities in town for concerts or movies,” says Richard Atack, vice president of Barry-Regent Dry Cleaners in Chicago, “but it is more gratifying when we get a package of garments sent to us from out of state.” The company he works for is a third-generation family business, founded in 1950, that has built a reputation for quality and service over the years and serves customers throughout Chicago and elsewhere.
Customers who have moved away from Chicago often send their special garments they’d rather not entrust to their local cleaner, he adds.
“Sometimes, they are planning to be in town and send their cleaning ahead of time, but often we package the garments carefully and ship them back,” Atack says. “Knowing that our customers have that level of trust in us is very rewarding.”
Care is the thing, sure. Trust is evident, no doubt. And whether it’s the stars, jet-setters, or just a community’s fashion-conscious, everyone wants to look great and wear beautifully cleaned clothes.
“Our mission,” Suarez concludes, “is to provide our clients with the most luxurious dry cleaning they have ever experienced.”
Time to make that gold gown dazzle!
To read Part One, go HERE.