Madame Paulette’s John Mahdessian is known as New York City’s master of resto-ration. He tackles couture garments and bridal gowns with ease, but what about luxurious furs and leathers? Well, he’s mastered those too.
What are the most common mistakes people make when caring for leathers and furs?
The owner of the garment needs to understand that these are skins and that they have natural oils to keep them from drying out. Leathers and furs can dry out quickly, get brittle and crack when they aren’t stored in a climate-controlled area. You don’t want to put them in an attic or basement because of moisture and drastic temperature change, and you also want to avoid direct sunlight, heat, etc. It’s also great to invest in a cedar closet to offer the garment extra protection, At Madame Paulette, we have a climate-controlled vault for fur and leather storage.
What is the most complicated fur or leather restoration project?
Painted leathers are the most difficult… they have never gone through a cleaning process. Painted leathers need an exact match to the original pantone color of the leather and the exact paint color re-applied. Some painted leathers have a metallic look, and sometimes you’ll deal with a garment using five different colors or mixes of painted leathers, suede and fur. Each piece can require a different process, and it’s extremely delicate. Sometimes dye can get lost, scars in the leather can become more apparent… skin can distort… you have to leave it to the experts.
You specialize in treating couture gowns, wedding dresses and furs. Are there any niche services people don’t know that you offer?
We received a tapestry from a church from the early 1900s at one point, and it had gold rope, weaving and tassels. It also had orange-colored silk satin material and featured a religious figure. Between the fabric, metallic/gold binding, roped edges and the actual painted canvas mural, this project was a difficult one. The good news is that we handle tapestries with the kind of care we’d use to handle the fabric of a gown or the surface of a leather garment.
How did you fix it?
This item couldn’t be replaced. It was insanely damaged by mildew, the paint was coming off… we took it apart. We killed the live mildew, restored the fabric, replaced/restored the gold metallic trimming, and we had our incredible in-house artist do a full restoration. So many people toss something with water damage or mildew damage, but we can treat that. We’re a specialty house, and our standards are to return your damaged item in perfect condition.
To see if your garment can be treated by the Madame Paulette staff, send a photo and details of the garment in question to [email protected]