Garment wizards who hand launder delicate clothing, dry clean and alter tricky garments, and furriers who clean and remodel fur.
By Ruth J. Katz
Proper care of garment at Madame Paulette’s. Photo by Marisa Tom. . . . . . . . . . . . .
In Part One of our garment-care guide, we highlighted cobbler-wizards, leather restorers and one of Gotham’s genius reweavers. Here, in part two, we present a guide to dexterous magicians who hand launder delicate clothing—everything from a glamorous feather boa to a precious Frette kimono—and dry cleaners who tackle the trickiest of garments, like sequined and beaded evening gowns, straw hats, and decorative gloves. We also recommend experts who can restore, remodel, or repair your fur coat or, better yet, granny’s ancient fur!
Mrs. Roles Hand Laundry, 701 Whittier Avenue, Bronx 212-744-6620. “After WW II, there were some 800 hand laundries in New York City,” says Dan Lutzky, the third-generation owner of Mrs. Roles Hand Laundry,” and—dare I say?—we are just about the only one left.” Laundry is all the company does and has three trucks making the pick-up/delivery rounds to Connecticut, Westchester, Manhattan, and beyond. His 18-person staff keep busy, whether working on linens, new clothing, or fragile vintage finds. Think of Mrs. Roles when you want remove the stains on your linen blazer, the liquid lip stain on your cotton dress, and the stains on your fragile white blouse and other delicate clothing. Lutzky is so confident of the level of his service and the company’s hand-finishing that he declares, “We allow people a one-time offer of sampling our services so they can see the quality of finishing we do.” Linen trousers, $13.50; blouses, $13.50; nightgowns, $18.50.
Dry Cleaning and Repair: From Silk to Suede
Ernest Winzer Cleaners, 1828 Cedar Street, Bronx, 877-946-9371. Ernest Winzer started this business in 1908. Today third-generation Bruce Barish runs the operation, which has always been known for its work maintaining and cleaning Broadway’s wardrobe, so to speak—perhaps 80% of the shows on the Great White Way use Winzer for their dry cleaning needs. The company will tackle everything—from hats to Ugg boots, gloves, leather and suede jackets, to oddball items, like a giant-size, plush Yogi Bear. “We get work from all over the country, through e-mail with digital pictures, through our Facebook page,” says Barish. The first time I sent clothing there—it was an Albert Nipon, pleated, white crepe dress—I was astonished at how exquisitely it was cleaned and returned—stuffed with enough tissue and a cardboard form to have been mistaken for a person. (Barish adds quickly that they try not to use as much tissue paper now, as customers are all very eco-oriented.) Everything is hand-finished skillfully: Women’s blouses, $26; women’s trousers, $20; dresses, $57; coats, $55.
Madame Paulette, 1255 Second Avenue, 212-838-6827. Once upon a time, there was a Madame Paulette, a couturier whose husband opened a dry cleaning facility to cater to his wife’s clients. His nephew, Noubar Mahdessian worked with him and ultimately purchased the shop. Today, it is Noubar’s son John who spearheads the operation and who is responsible for growing the business astronomically and elevating it to way more than a “local dry cleaning shop.” It’s a fancy place between 65th and 66th Street with dressing rooms (five seamstresses are on the roster) that are larger than Manhattan studio apartments, and filled with natural sunlight, fluorescent and evening incandescent light, as well as black light to uncover invisible stains. There’s coffee, an espresso machine, and even a Champagne bar. However, there is also an 8,000-square-foot plant in Long Island City where the dry cleaning is done. Mahdessian takes pride in delivering exquisitely finished garments, but all at a premium price. Dresses $50 to $70; trousers, $25; cocktail dresses, $135; gowns, $225. The company even has a Closet Concierge to catalogue all your clothes with digital photos, pick-up/deliver, and store. A must-have from the shop: The convenient stain removal kit, which comes with detailed instructions, a fabulous going-away gift for a jetsetter friend. (5 kits/$37.50)
Fur: Cleaning and Remodeling
Henry Cowit Furs, 151 West 29 Street, 212-594-5744. Brothers Larry and Steve Cowit are third-generation furriers, who started in the fur-matching business; Steve Cowit told me that there used to be 100 fur-matchers in the country, and today, he is practically the lone dinosaur left. The brothers have expanded their operation to include retail/wholesale and do a tremendous business in pre-owned furs and in remodeling: One popular job: cutting down a long ankle length coat to a more modern-looking three-quarter length coat, and using the “scraps” to make a detachable hood, scarf, hat, headband, or earmuffs. Cowit can also fashion an old coat into a baseball or bomber jacket, a long tunic, or a vest, with prices ranging from $250 (vest) to $750 (more elaborate styles). They can change the look of an ‘80s coat by altering the shoulders, changing the collar, altering the cuffs, and so on. They get a lot of customers who have bought fur garments at flea markets and on ebay. They can shear a coat to give it an up-to-date look. “So long as the pelt is pliable and has life in it, we ought to be able to work with it.” Raincoats with a microfiber shell or a sensuous Loro Piana cashmere fabric are a specialty and alternations can range from about $850 to $1,500. And, of course, Cowit handles minor repairs—buttons, snaps, hooks, hems—and store coats, as well.
Ruth J. Katz is currently the Style Editor of Promenade magazine and has covered service, shopping, and design for more than 20 years as an editor at Redbook, Colonial Homes, Classic Home, The Modern Estate, and New York Home magazines; she wrote for many years for The New York Times and New York magazine and appeared weekly on Fox TV as the Home Services Editor. She is the author of five books.
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