Monday, January 30, 2012

What is Haute Couture?

Photo courtesy of
The dictionary defines haute as the French word for "fashionable" or "high class." Couture is "the business of designing, making, and selling fashionable custom-made women's clothing."

A quick look on Wikipedia tells us that haute couture "is made to order [clothing] for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses."

Becca Carson Thrash, Houston socialite and couture collector, tells Forbes Magazine that haute couture clothing is "the pinnacle of fashion." Couture could be described as the top-tier of the fashion world.

But, according to Bronwyn Williams of Crazy Chic, not just anyone can call his or her clothing haute couture, even if the garments are handmade to order. You can't call your sparking wine "Champagne" unless it's actually produced in the Champagne region of France. And it's the same idea with haute couture.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times
Chambre syndicale de la haute couture is the official couture society of Paris. According to its rules, in order to be called haute couture, "a garment must be designed and made to order for a private client with one or more fittings. The designer must have a workshop in Paris employing at least 15 people full time. And twice a year, a haute couture designer must present his collections to the Paris press at the haute couture shows," says Williams. Sounds like some serious regulations, which is why haute couture items are so prized.

Williams says that some of the oldest and most famous names in fashion, such as Dior, Valentino, Chanel, and Lanvin, produce haute couture alongside their ready-to-wear collections.

Check out The Secret World of Haute Couture for an inside look into this interesting, overlooked area of the fashion industry.

Tell us: Who are your favorite designers?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Award-Winning Dry Cleaners

Margaret's Cleaners is once again humbled by two more awards: Plant of the Year and Social Media Effort of the Year at the Methods for Management (MFM) Success 2012 conference.

MFM hosted a competition for drycleaning members around the world--from the United States to India. Members were encouraged to submit applications for various categories, including Website of the Year, Best Idea of the Year, Plant of the Year, Social Media Effort of the Year, and more. Of the nine categories, Margaret's took home two awards, and won a new Liebersew Blindstitch machine, donated by B&G Lieberman, and an Amazon Kindle Fire, donated by Jane Zellers.

Margaret's is honored to accept this recognition. You might have noticed that we've been blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, and talking a lot more. That's because we launched a social media initiative in mid-December. We hope to reach out to more people not only in the southern California area, but also across the country with our CleanByMail service.

What is Methods for Management?
MFM serves the drycleaning industry through independent consulting relationships as well as coordinating and facilitating Management Bureaus. MFM Management Bureaus provide a safe, non-competitive environment where members are comfortable sharing information, issues, and concerns with peers they trust and respect. MFM has helped clients, nationally and internationally, improve profits and operations since 1953.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Margaret's cleans vintage Rudi Gernreich designs for Museum of Contemporary Art fashion exhibition

Recognize this girl?

 This is Peggy Moffitt, a favorite model and muse of the late and great designer Rudi Gernreich.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA presents: The Total Look, an exhibition that celebrates the remarkable collaboration between Rudi Gernreich, his model and muse, Peggy Moffitt, and Moffitt's late husband and photographer, William Claxton. The exhibition features the designs of Gernreich, which are modeled by Moffitt, and photographed by Claxton. 

This exciting exhibition runs from March 3 to May 20.

Cameron Silver, exhibition curator, fashion historian, and founder of Decades (basically he's a fashion extraordinaire!), trusted Margaret's to handle these priceless--often fragile--vintage items.

Margaret's was selected to clean and restore items that were chosen from Peggy's extensive collection to prepare them for the upcoming show. These delicate, vintage garments required special care in order to return them to their original condition. All of the vintage garments were gently cleaned by hand, and some of the more prominent pieces required reknitting and reweaving to repair damage incurred during storage. Some of the garments even required embellishment re-manufacturing. It was a very involved, challenging project that Margaret's was honored to manage.

Jordanah, Chuck, Cameron, and Peggy (Not pictured: Ethel)

If you're in the LA area, check out this awesome exhibition. Take notes and tell us about your experience on our Facebook page. Tell them Margaret's sent you!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The history of dry cleaning

Contrary to popular belief, dry cleaning actually involves liquids. However, the cleaning solvents used are waterless, hence the term “dry” cleaning.

The beginning of dry cleaning dates back to the days of Pompeii. Roman cleaners were called Fullers. They used cleaners, such as lye, ammonia, urine, and “fuller’s earth” (clay), to clean soil and grease from their clothing.

In the mid 1800s, Jean Baptiste Jolly accidentally tipped his kerosene lamp on his tablecloth. The result? The kerosene left the tablecloth clean! After that serendipitous discovery, Jean Baptiste Jolly offered a new laundering service, which is known as “dry cleaning” today.

Because early dry cleaners used petroleum-based solvents, such as benzene, camphene, petrol, and kerosene, dry cleaning was a dangerous profession. These solvents, although effective, were highly flammable and combustible.

After WWI, dry cleaners switched over to chlorinated solvents, which were less flammable. Perchloroethylene (perc) was the popular choice because of its exceptional cleaning ability and its non-combustible properties.

Today, dry cleaners use hydrocarbon, GreenEarth, and even perc, although perc is on the chopping block because of its toxic properties. Perc is being phased out of dry cleaning facilities, and will gone completely by 2023. For more information from American Drycleaner on the perc ban in California, click here.

Margaret's offers GreenEarth, which is a patented liquid silicone dry cleaning solution. GreenEarth is  an environmentally safe alternative to perc, and it's also more gentle on clothing. Margararet's also uses hydrocarbon solvents and other specialty solvents to clean clothing. Margaret's regularly filters the cleaning solutions to remove impurities that can cause chemical odors and the dingy, grayish tinge that appears on some dry cleaned clothing.

Knowledge is power! Make sure you ask your dry cleaner which solvent it uses on clothing and how often they filter the cleaning solutions.

Tell us: What is your best or worst experience with a dry cleaner? Did you have an amazing dry cleaner who spot-cleaned an oil stain? Or did you have a dry cleaner who ruined your garment? Let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Margaret's Wins Best Plant Design Award from American Dry Cleaner!

Convoy plant
Here at Margaret's, we're proud to show off our 22,000-square foot couture cleaning plant, and recently, American Drycleaner recognized us for our facility. We are honored to accept the Plant Design Grand Prize Award! See the article here and here.

Facts about this plant:
  • The work on our two-story structure (at right) began in 2009 and it's about 95% complete.
  • Margaret's provides high-end cleaning service for over 150 prominent retailers nationwide.
  • Margaret's performs wet cleaning, hand cleaning, repair, restoration, and more. All of our specialists have years of experience.
  • Our plant is large enough to house individual departments to care for specific items, such as purses, shoes, gowns, textiles, ties, and more. 

Take a Tour
Tour our plant in just a few minutes!


Welcome to the Convoy plant!

Wet cleaning

This is the wet cleaning area.

Dry cleaning

These are our high-quality dry cleaning machines.


This is the laundry area.

Laundry flatwork finisher

This flatwork finisher removes wrinkles and gives a crisp finish to fine linens.


This is the dry cleaning finishing department.

Bridal soaking tubs

These are our bridal spa soaking tubs. These, along with our incredible spot cleaners and specialists, set Margaret's apart from the rest.

Master cobbler

Margaret's repairs shoes right in our Convoy plant.

Bridal clean room

Our bridal Clean Room is where clean gowns go to get pressed and/or preserved.

CleanByMail office

Margaret's CleanByMail service allows our customers to take advantage of our expert couture cleaning services, even when out of the area.

Vehicle maintenance and repair

We even maintain and repair our own delivery vehicles!

On-site photo studio

Margaret's has several on-site photo studios.

For more information, check out the article about our facility and our Grand Prize award!

Tell us: Which department at Margaret's interests you the most? We'll post more pictures from the department that interests you!