Why is it always those friends whose wardrobes are creaking under the weight of idle purchases, who are desperate to borrow something to wear? Enter T and a third date with a banker as fickle as her taste in Nicholas Kirkwood shoes: A scenario prompting a 'WARDROBE CRISIS!!!!' (According to an email sent twice for good measure). I assumed that the panic was caused by the relatively few third dates T has been invited on, for her clothes are many.
Nevertheless, any opportunity to stop her binge-shopping (kaftans in February, bikinis in December and gold lamé in London) and regurgitating plastic bags and cellophane gift wrap, was a good one. I proudly threw open the doors to a rather stream-lined edit of dresses, convinced that she would see the benefit of owning only treasured, high quality pieces which would last.
"Is that it?" she croaked. Before she could suggest a cab to Bond Street, I quickly pointed out the presence of a few of her favourite labels, explaining that Louis Vuitton supports both The Red Cross and The Climate Project and has a rule in place to reduce its carbon footprint.
She scrutinised a timeless white shift: "Well, it is Vuitton," she muttered, sighing dramatically: "Maybe I don't need to go shopping." Mindful that she had eschewed the 'fast fashion' supply chain, I proffered a glass of red.
"Thank you!" She trilled, raising her glass. Swoosh. There is a moment in any clothes-borrowing scenario, when you expect to have a loaned piece disappear without trace. But you don't quite expect it to be drowned before your very eyes as a waterfall of Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir cascades towards something you've lived in and loved for 12 years.
A high-pitched squeal. I'm not sure if it came from me or her. "It's ok!" She exclaimed, running for the door. "I can have it dry-cleaned!"
This time the shriek was definitely my own. Conventional dry-cleaning in the UK uses a toxic chemical called perchloroethylene or 'PERC', which has been linked to health risks. The World Health Organization categorises the substance in its A2 category where it can be interpreted as 'probably carcinogenic to humans' and, as early as ten years ago, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a fact sheet describing possible effects of exposure to Perc as dizziness, fatigue and headaches - as well as kidney and liver damage and cancer. States such as California have since banned its use completely and by 2020 use of Perc at dry cleaning premises which are close to occupied buildings, will be in force across the whole of France.
With perchloroethylene still legally in use in the UK, the widely-publicised Green Earth method is one alternative. However, while this dry cleaning system uses a less damaging silicon based solution, it still uses a solvent which can cause pollution to the environment.
Thankfully wet cleaning, a chemical free service, is a possible alternative at London Ecocleaners. The company uses a 100 per cent non-toxic detergent blend which is also biodegradable. Moreover, because toxic residue does not build up on the garments which have been processed, the company claims textile fibres remain stronger for longer. Long live Louis Vuitton!
Of course, much use can also be made of copious water, a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda and laying affected items to dry on a towel.
I ran after her.
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