Caring for Couture

New York Fashion Week just ended, and “couture” is a term often heard bouncing around. What is it?

Couture is more than a designer or high-end fashion. Classified by organizations such as the French Federation of Couture Fashion Designers, couture is most commonly used to describe expensive, personally tailored garments, which also may include sentimental garments like a wedding dress, family heirlooms, and special occasion gowns.

These garments are highly valuable. Here are a few tips for storage, keeping expensive handbags in good condition, and considering insurance.

Tips for Garment Storage:

  • Garment bags should be made up of breathable fabrics, like muslin, a lightweight cotton cloth. This will keep the garments free of dust and protect them from contaminants.
  • Make sure your closet has ventilation. Valuables should not be left in stuffy attics or basements where airflow is limited.
  • Do not leave clothes trapped in plastic dry cleaner bags, which can trap moisture in the clothing, eventually causing mildew.
  • Specific articles like knits, beaded items (which are too heavy to hang), and lace pieces should be folded with acid-free tissue in between. Acid-free tissue paper should be used to wrap delicates in archival textile preservation boxes for long term storage.
  • Avoid using wire hangers; instead use a wide shoulder, padded, and “slimline” hangers. Try these.
  • To keep moths away, fill sachets with cedar or lavender to hang in the closet. Avoid direct contact with clothing.
  • Make sure to clean the garment professionally after it is worn. Garments carry bacteria, body oils, antiperspirants, hair spray, perfume, etc. which can damage the fabric or stain the clothing if left over time.
  • Make sure your dry cleaner has unparalleled service for couture, high end, and designer clothing, and can provide customizable service, extensive experience, and expertise for your valuable garments. An excellent way to find the best cleaners is to visit the high-end retail clothing stores and ask what cleaner they trust for their dry cleaning skills.

Precious “skins” Handbag Care:

  • Store your purse in the dust bag that it came with and consider using a purse insert or keep it stuffed with acid-free tissue paper to retain its shape.
  • It is tempting to keep your favorite handbags on display, but dust and sunlight are especially harmful to fabric and precious materials.
  • A handbag liner is a good idea not only to protect against spills of something you might be carrying but also to swap out your items if you change bags frequently quickly.
  • Consider contacting a professional to mediate any stains, restoration, maintenance, or tears.

Insurance

While all these measures will put your collection in a safe condition, insurance is the next level of security to ensure a permanent collection for generations. AIG Private Client Group offers a wearable collections coverage, the only specialized insurance “currently available to protect and proactively mitigate risks for high-value couture and designer wearable collections.” General homeowners insurance may contain gaps where couture and ready-to-wear garments, shoes, handbags, vintage clothing, and other custom couture, which is where this policy may become handy. Coverage includes vulnerability assessments, emergency planning, and referrals to wardrobe-preservation specialists. To learn more visit their website.

If you want more information or any personalized advice, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We will be more than happy to help.

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