Since I am out of town this weekend, I considered posting a series of my classic Patch columns today. But since I’ve only written two, a career retrospective seemed somewhat premature.
So here’s a new one—but travel-themed because is has to do with a trip to New York City, where this evening I will attend the Explorers Club Annual Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. is Southern California Chapter Chair of this international organization—and I’m always down for a party where you get to dress up.
And I had just the dress—a floor-length, off-white silk number designed by my friend James Purcell, who is now out of the fashion business but gained notoriety in the mid-‘90s by refusing to send Sally Field 10 free dresses so she could pick one to wear to the Academy Awards.
“We told Sally Field to go [really like] herself, and you can’t do that on Wall Street!” crowed James in the press (he and partner Barry Steinhart had left high-finance careers to launch their design company).
Since formal in Los Angeles means no flip-flops, I was excited to have a Manhattan event at which to re-launch the dress Sally Field never saw. Unfortunately, when I opened the suit bag in which it was stored I discovered a rust-colored streak down the middle of the creamy silk skirt. It wasn’t there when I put it away at last wearing, more than five years ago.
But—no problem. A few months ago, Heidi and I discovered a local cleaning wizard who could surely handle the job: Nader M. Kashani ofon Ventura Boulevard. The shop opened last June.
Alan and I have tried various Studio City cleaners for years and never really bonded with any of them. But on a first visit, Kashani, who spent years in his father’s cleaning business near Dusseldorf after the family’s move from Iran to Germany during the Iranian Revolution, welcomed my German shepherd like a friend from the old country. He also pointed out that we are mispronouncing my husband’s last name, Feldstein, as Feld-steen.
“In Germany, it’s Feld-SHTINE,” he announced.
It quickly became clear to Mrs. Feld-SHTINE and her faithful dog that no trip to Spotless Green Cleaners would be a mere pick-up, drop-off transaction.
Kashani, who in Germany studied electrical engineering while attending a rigorous program on cleaning, dyeing and finishing fabrics, always offers an educational mini-lecture on the fabric or piece of clothing. Silk, mohair, viscose, polyester – all have different needs.
“Angora—years ago, the test was you had to blow air on it, and it really has to swim, like this,” Kashani explains, his hand moving through the air like a fish. “If it didn’t swim, it was ruined.”
His eyes light up when he talks about a brightly-patterned Roberto Cavalli dress, of such high quality viscose that the color never runs or fades. Or the famed design house of Brioni, “the maestro – his atelier, his fabrics, his ties…oooh, five, six hundred Euros, one tie! He did one tie only from each fabric, and the rest was thrown away.”
Never try to tell Kashani which pieces you want laundered, and which dry-cleaned—he lets the fabric advise him. He also does not like to be rushed.
“That I have from my Dad. He always said, it’s never enough to give your best—but your best, and best,” Kashani says. “He was 45, 46 when he came to Germany, so he had a hard time with the language, but people saw how hard he worked. He would say: ‘If you want it today, you can have it, but I am not happy with this.’ We didn’t want to have people shouting at us. He did not complain about having to do so much work on the piece. He just complained when you say: ‘I have to have it in two hours.’ "
Kashani was not happy when I brought in the dress. First of all, I had no idea what the discoloration was or when it had occurred, so he could not employ his chemists’ expertise; it would be hit or miss. But instead of simply turning me away, he took on the challenge. I stopped by a week later—and a very apologetic Kashani had not been able to remove the stain. But he was determined to try again.
“I will go inch by inch,” he declared.
He advised me not to come back again until I received his call. It would happen before the end of the week, he promised.
That was Wednesday. On Saturday, Kashani phoned, sounding as though the world was ending.
“I cannot clean the dress,” he said. It’s OK, I said, as long as you let Heidi and I come by to visit you on Monday. That’s when we learned about Cavalli and Brioni and magical mohair—and it became clear that if Kashani couldn’t clean the dress, no one could. He refused any payment for processing the dress at least five times without success.
While we were in the shop, Paul Brown, a teacher at Sherman Oaks' (and a standard poodle parent) made friends with Heidi while he picked up his order. While he waited, we talked about Kashani.
“He really does have a reputation, I heard it from two separate people,” Brown said.
As we left the store, Kashani was still trying to solve our problem. Perhaps a tailor might be able to remove the stained panel and replace it with a similar off-white silk, he suggested. Or really change it up and lay in a swath of dazzling cobalt blue?
Since we didn’t have time to explore such enticing options, I’m wearing a different dress to the Explorers Club Annual Dinner. But next time Heidi and I sniff out a stubborn spot, the first place we’ll head is Spotless Green Cleaners.