Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wedding gowns

Image by Reem Acra via Majestic Gardens.
Despite being highly treasured keepsakes, wedding gowns are often poorly treated and stored. Like furs, the delicate fabric and craftsmanship on these gowns are vulnerable not only to natural hazards such as light and pests, but also to improper cleaning, handling and preservation. Professional cleaning, repairs and storage in museum-quality, acid-free archival boxes are vital to a gown’s longevity for preservation as an heirloom. These are included among Madame Paulette’s professional cleaning and preservation services, along with gloves for handling and free US shipping.

High-quality boxes and packaging materials account for only 50 percent of preservation success, says Madame Paulette’s Bridal, Couture and Vintage Manager, Karen Jean-Aimée. Once a gown returns from Madame Paulette, appropriate storage is equally necessary to maintain quality. Aside from light, mildew and dust, fluctuating temperatures and humidity may also prove dangerous to delicate gowns. As such, boxes should be kept flat in a climate- and humidity-controlled area of the house (e.g., a bedroom rather than basements, attics and exterior rooms).

Unlike some gown preservation services, which require customers to keep the box tightly sealed to prevent damage, Madame Paulette ensures that customers are able to periodically open and inspect the gown. The fabrics should, in fact, be allowed to breathe at least once per year after initial storage. After inspection, refold the dress in different places and wrap with fresh, white, acid-free tissue paper. The dress should be sent to Madame Paulette every 15 years to replace the archival box.


Image by William Wilson.
The frequency of dry cleaning a suit depends on how often it is worn. Madame Paulette technician J. R. Riley, who has over 50 years of experience, recommends sending suits to Madame Paulette every 2 – 4 wearings, as dust, dirt and air pollution embedded in the fabric can weaken it. Make sure to send the jacket and trousers to Madame Paulette at the same time to ensure that color and quality remain consistent.

In between cleanings, one should take important measures to preserve quality and durability. Store suits no longer in use in breathable garment bags, using cedar (not mothballs) to repel insects. Wrinkles can be minimized by letting suits rest at least 24 hours (48 for flannel and tweed) between wearings on padded or shaped hangers, with room for the fabric to breathe. Always remember to empty suit pockets, remove any belts or braces and zip and button all closures to maintain your suit’s shape.


Image by Sandra Gore.
Furs are among the most delicate materials. Highly susceptible to many environmental conditions, they are safest during the warm months in Madame Paulette’s climate- and humidity-controlled fur storage facility. During the winter, keeping one’s furs at home at under 50° Fahrenheit within 50% humidity is not always possible, but there are precautions one can take to minimize damage when not in storage. Avoid heat, light and humidity, above all, and be cautious about friction, pests and chemicals, including perfume, hairspray and makeup. Hang furs in cool, dark and dry closets, leaving breathing room around the fur. Make sure the closet is warm, but has no heat vents, to prevent freezing and thawing. When transporting to and from Madame Paulette, please be sure to keep furs in breathable cloth garment bags.

Carpet stains

Image by Joe Belanger via Sophisticated Edge.
In case of a spill, call Madame Paulette immediately, and act thoughtfully to mitigate the damage. Madame Paulette’s Interior Senior Technician Raymond Morales suggests minimizing risk with the following steps: remove any crumbs or solids with a spoon, then apply lukewarm water to dilute liquid. To dry, blot (never rub) with clean rags or paper towels from the edges inward to prevent spreading; change cloths repeatedly. Call Madame Paulette as soon as possible; the sooner we act, the more successful the stain removal will be.