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Fashion vs. Fabricare 2013 (Part 3)

Ian P. Murphy |

Four fall styles that may present processing predicaments

CHICAGO — The runways in the fashion capitals of Milan, New York and Paris simmered with sultry looks for the fall season this year, emphasizing a brazen sexuality that translates from the boardroom to the bedroom.

Artfully deconstructed looks made many garments seem as if they were already halfway off, while pajama ensembles and a hotel-room set helped at least one collection look like it was advertising an illicit tryst and the ensuing walk of shame.

But the 2013 styles aren’t all indiscretion; many designers borrowed silhouettes from postwar boom times, when everyone dressed for dinner. The season’s fuller skirts feature hemlines that hit below the knee to leave something to the imagination, and big, boxy plaids protect against the winter chill.

Even when the tailoring is traditional, though, the materials and decorations used could challenge dry cleaners’ skills. Not every plant will see a neoprene evening gown or an ostrich-feather skirt, for example, but many of the year’s styles may present problems in processing.

The following is a fall fashion trend that dry cleaners will see in the months ahead, and expert advice on handling it.

FLOWER POWER

This year’s runway collections offered a riot of vibrant teals, oranges and reds in all-over floral prints. And to bring more three-dimensional pop to the prints, many designers added sprays of decorative fabric flowers, making bouquets out of their runway-model beauties.

Color changes, bleeds and fading are common on such vivid prints in spotting and cleaning, and “the printing is only as good as the binding agent,” says Alan Spielvogel, garment analyst for the National Cleaners Association (NCA). “If it is a multiple-piece garment, all pieces must be cleaned together. Even with a little fading, the item is not going to match the other pieces.”

Whatever the solvent, control cycle times and heat in cleaning and reclamation.

“Whenever you have anything like this that you’re worried about, spend a little more time on spotting and use the drycleaning wheel for a quick rinse,” advises Joe Hallak Jr., vice president of New York-based Hallak Cleaners. “Moisture makes these colors run.”

If a garment is festooned with fabric flowers, figure out how they are constructed and attached—they may contain wire to help maintain their shape; some will be sewn on, and others will be glued.

“Clean the garments in a net bag to minimize agitation,” says Chris Allsbrooks, director of training operations for ZIPS Cleaners and a former garment analyst with the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI).

“If you can take them off, take them off,” Hallak adds. “Even if they are sewn on, cleaning will crush the hell out of them.”

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Ian P. Murphy

American Drycleaner

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.

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