Mr. ‘Clean’

I can’t boast that my local dry cleaner is “one of the most recognized and respected cleaning and restoration companies in the world”, or the “finest custom couture cleaner in the world”, responsible for preparing and maintaining Melania’s Christian Dior Haute Couture wedding gown prior to her high profile wedding to Donald Trump in Palm Beach. I can’t brag that they clean and routinely maintain the gold silk upholstered upholstery in Donald Trump’s Boeing 727; restore and preserve “irreplaceable vintage Chanel creations” from the 20’s and 30’s, (and as such, were responsible for the success of the 2004 Chanel exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in 2004), or that they cleaned and restored some of the iconic fashions featured in the Costume Institute’s AngloMania exhibit. And I certainly can’t boast that my local dry cleaner is routinely written up in glossy fashion magazines or that its windows could easily rival that of the best stores and boutiques in town.

However, if you happen to live in close proximity to 1255 Second Avenue, between 65th and 66thh streets, you might be able to make that claim, because you are just around the corner from the famed Madame Paulette, a dry cleaning establishment like no other: so high end, so luxurious, and so out of the ordinary (thanks to the obsession, passion, vision, and hard work of third generation Owner and President, 43 year old John Mahdessian, who turned down a high profile Wall Street job in order to take the helm), it is called the Madame Paulette Organization and it gives new meaning to being “taken to the cleaners”. And it has admittedly come a long way from its beginnings (it was founded in 1958 by John’s great uncle Andy, and named for his wife who had worked as a French seamstress).

This past summer, in celebration of their 50th year in business, Mr. Mahdessian threw a three night celebration at the company’s newly renovated flagship (it takes up half a city block,) and it was attended by many of the city’s biggest movers and shakers. It was also the perfect ‘excuse’ to show off the just completed $500,000‘face lift’ which helps set it apart from ‘similar’ establishments. First, there’s the main foyer, covered in black marble with custom made brass fixtures which bear the Madame Paulette logo. Then there are the dressing rooms that offer an array of different lighting, not to mention a high tech ‘black light setting’ which actually pinpoints invisible blemishes. Last but not least, there are the windows, which are filled with a seasonal, changing assortment of fabulous frocks. A few months ago, it was some of the “most prized” vintage pieces that have been restored by Madame Paulette, including treasures by Yves Saint Laurent, Ossie Clark, Givenchy, Paul Poiret, and Fortuny. Most recently, the offerings include the designs of Maggie Norris, J. Mendel, Pilar Rossi, Marchesa, Cho Cheng, Emanuel Ungaro, and Angel Sanchez. By the way, awhile back, it was reported that Eva Longoria eyed an Angel Sanchez creation in the window that she “had to have” for a red carpet event, and before you could say, “dry cleaner”, it was shipped out to La-La Land.

To find out more about the extensive and global services the company provides (even if you’re not the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Eva Longoria, Anna Wintour, Sting, Donald Trump, Melania Trump, or Barbara Walters, who sang their praises for being able to remove red wine from a prized black and white sequined Armani jacket, after being repeatedly told it would never come out) click on to, or call 212 838 6827.

By the way, I found myself seated next to Mr. Mahdessian at the recent Fashion Group International’s ‘Night of Stars’ Gala at the Wall Street Cipriani. It couldn’t have been more perfect timing, since I was about to put a forkful of cold lobster dripping with dressing, into my mouth, and I was just thinking about the possible stains that would ensue. As I looked to my right, John was sitting there, and he had his convenient ‘Madame Paulette Professional Stain Removal Kit’ at the ready, which is just the thing for getting out seemingly impossible stains from red wine, butter sauce, blood, or anything else for that matter. This is perfect to keep in mind since the holidays, filled with food and wine, are fast approaching.

Just a reminder, if you happen to meet John Mahdessian at some point, please, don’t call him a ‘dry cleaner’ to his face, because he might just punch you in the face. When he was profiled by The New York Observer, (‘The Sultan of Stains’, June 9, 2009), he told writer Spencer Morgan, “That’s a fuckin’ insult”. That’s like calling a world-renowned surgeon a doctor.”

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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