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.”
Discerning clients in this high-end arena of fabricare cleaning expect no less than the best level of service to equal their most dazzling wardrobe. Thus, expectations are lofty.
WORKS OF ART
A finely tuned expertise in cleaning is key to handling these delicate designs in the fabricare market.
“The challenges in couture dry cleaning are varied,” says Suarez. He notes how many of the designs are not made with cleaning in mind but on how it looks on the client and how the client will perceive the design.
“The use of multiple types of fabrics and embellishments in the design of high-end and couture garments make couture dry cleaning a true art form,” he says.
Sometimes, Suarez has to take a garment apart in order to clean the different parts, or for the precision hand-cleaning needed in order to remove stains without compromising garment construction.
“Another challenge,” he points out, “is the high cost of these items and the responsibility of handling difficult and unique items.”
He calls the opportunities “challenging but very rewarding, as the high-end market is not as affected by downturns in the economy and the clients are willing to pay a premium for a specialized service.”
In Las Vegas, Del Rossi’s company has had the reputation for caring for couture garments since the early 1970s, he says.
Couture cleaning can be considered “high risk” cleaning, Del Rossi says.
“It is defined as the designing, making and selling of fashionable, custom-made women’s clothing,” he says. “I define couture cleaning as specialized cleaning and handling of very delicate, expensive, and custom-made garments.”
Manufacturers and designers of show pieces and couture garments “tend to put the care and cleaning at the bottom of their list,” according to Del Rossi, “thus creating this specialized field.”
It would seem that the design of these “fancy” dresses sometimes comes before thoughts of how the garment will be cleaned, but that in itself creates opportunity.
Richard Atack, vice president of Barry-Regent Dry Cleaners in Chicago, has this take: “Couture is clothing that is not made for ‘everyday.’ It is worn for special occasions, perhaps only once or twice, and is therefore constructed with appearance as a priority over ‘cleanability.’”
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.
The fashion industry constantly finds new ways to challenge the dry cleaner, according to Atack, but in doing so, it also presents one with an opportunity.
“Learning how to handle the toughest cleaning challenges, such as couture clothing, has a carryover into how we and our employees approach business and casual garments as well,” Atack says. “Our overall quality and our reputation benefit immensely.”
Certain garments require individual attention due to their materials or construction.
“We are fortunate to have employees and managers with decades of experience who can decide the best way to handle these garments,” he says. “We also have a variety of cleaning methods at our disposal, enabling us to meet most challenges.”
Check back Thursday for the conclusion.