My chemical romance
When your wardrobe is your pride and joy, your dry-cleaner calls the shots. Sarah Harris searches for the one.
(...) Anyone prone to anxiety should look away now. Punch "perchloroethylene" (perc) into Google and you may never set foot in a dry-cleaners again. Greenpeace says the agent "poses a serious threat to human health", while Baby Centre writes "several studies have found a link between inhaling perc and an increased risk of miscarriage and infertility", and the World Health Organisation states "inhalations of high concentrations [of perc] has induced dizziness, fatigue, headache... unconciouslness, narcosis and liver damage. Some deaths have occured." Death by dry-cleaning? A woman who lived above a dry-cleaning shop in Nice was later diagnosed with cancer. She successfully sued the company before passing away recently. The solvent is slowly being phased out. There are already government bans in America, Denmark and France (...). The entire industry will be forced to find alternatives by 2020.
"biodegradable, health-friendly detergents promising a fresh smell and brilliant whites"
Not soon enough for Ludovic Blanc, an amiable Frenchman from Marseille who recently quit a plum job as vice-president of JP Morgan in London to open an eco dry-cleaning shop - or rather, wet cleaning, as in watercleaning, which is practically a swear word in this sector. His cleaning technology, Lagoon, replaces toxic chemicals with biodegradable, health-friendly detergents promising a fresh smell and brilliant whites - having tried it, I can say that he isn't wrong.
"his shops in Marylebone and Notting Hill are so lovely, it's more like a browse around Bamford"
His shops in Marylebone and Notting Hill are so lovely, it's more like a browse around Bamford, with all-smiling, polite, pretty staff. In addition to customer service, there are other frustrations with the industry that he has rectified, too. Unsatisfied by regular opening hours, he initiated an ATM-like machine which dispenses customers' dry-cleaning 24/7 with the swipe of a credit card, and his prices are competitive, too, unlike Jeeves, whose services don't come cheap.
"As for me, happily, I'm in a new relationship with BLANC"
(...) As for me, (...) happily, I'm in a new relationship with Blanc. Let's not jinx anything, but I'd say we're about ready to go steady.
By Sarah Harris, VOGUE UK's Fashion Features Director