Wedding Gown Cleaning

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Gown designer and bridal expert Lisa Gowing shares the three rules for storing your wedding dress after your big day.

While it takes months to find the right wedding dress or create the dress of your dreams, most gowns are often discarded and left to hang with no care after the day has passed. No matter how soon you have to get to the airport, if you’ve had thoughts of keeping or selling your wedding dress, the delicate fabrics must be taken care of. Vogue asked bridal specialist Lisa Gowing to share her insider secrets on how to properly care for your gown.

RULE 1: DRY CLEAN WITHOUT DELAY “You need to clean your gown immediately as, over time, stains will set and they will become more and more difficult to remove,” says Gowing. “Ideally, you want someone to drop off your gown while you’re on your honeymoon, or the cleaners we prefer can come and pick up your gown before you go.”

Gowing recommends Blue & White Dry Cleaners in Crows Nest – “See Jim, he’s a hand cleaner who has been doing wedding gowns for over 35 years” – and Jeeves Dry Cleaners in Lindfield – “See Andrew; again, he is a hand cleaner and I’ve been using him since I opened my first doors in the North Shore over 14 years ago. His attention to detail is fantastic.”   RULE 2: WRAP IT UP “The only way to store your gown long-term is to box it with acid-free tissue paper. Both of my dry cleaner recommendations box their gowns. Ideally, you want to keep the gown away from anything that could stain it over time so acid-free tissue paper is fantastic and by boxing the gown it seals in the air,” says Gowing. Alternatively, some couture brides frame their gowns and hang them in a 3D shadow box on the wall.   If it is impossible to clean and box the gown prior to the honeymoon, Gowing recommends storing the dress in a 100 per cent cotton garment bag, as plastic cleaning bags don’t allow the garment to breathe. Make sure to hang the dress on a white padded silk coat hanger as opposed to a lacquered wooden coat hanger.   Store veils, accessories and silk shoes with the dress. “I wore a three-metre long veil edged in the same lace as my gown and it’s going to be boxed, as will my silk stole. My sister had shoes made of the same silk and they were wrapped separately then boxed in. Boxing is also a good way to know that everything is all together,” Gowing says.   RULE 3: STORE SENSIBLY “I only deal with natural fabrics, even in my home I tend to gravitate towards cottons, linens, silks and wools, and because they’re all natural you store them quite similarly,” says Gowing. “Store items somewhere that isn’t damp or humid, and out of the sunlight. If we hang a garment under the light in the studio for long enough it will turn yellow as it’s a natural fibre. So store [the boxed dress] under the bed or in the cupboard, and make sure it’s flat.”
MORE EXPERT WEDDING DRESS TIPS Collecting the gown from the shop: “Take the dress home in a long garment bag preferably laying it along the back seat [of the car] or even hooked from its hanger at one window and then along the seat. The gown should then be hung somewhere high so any creases can drop out and no more will be created,” says Gowing.   Leading up to the wedding: “When you get the gown home don’t constantly try it on or pull it out of the bag and show people. The more you handle liquid silk and delicate fabrics the more oils can mark the fabric and over time the marks will become worse.”   On the day: “Keep in mind not to hang the gown from a fire sprinkler system on the ceiling of your hotel room,” warns Gowing. “I was once called to a hotel two hours before a wedding to show a bride five ready-to-wear gowns as her gown was hung from a sprinkler. It set off the hotels sprinkler system and the room was flooded, including the gown. Just the sort of stress you don’t need on your wedding day!”   Lisa Gowing

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