After my fifth bridesmaid fitting at various dry cleaning facilities around Chicago, I finally started to build somewhat of a loyalty to the family that worked at the location just down the block from my latest apartment. The guy who worked the desk was friendly, he always remembered me, and they stayed open late on weekdays, which was a key component for my standard "burst through the door the week before the wedding and beg them to completely re-work the size ten dress into a size four" approach. And then, after a year of loyalty, I moved apartments, and only visited him again in desperate situations (which I am sure makes him very fond of me).
The point of this post is not to highlight my skill at procrastinating, or my tendency to shift preferences based on proximity (although my favorite bar usually does happen to fall within a five-block radius of wherever I am living at the moment). It is, instead, to tell my readers that, while many of the cleaners in Chicago are great for your standard needs in a pinch, there actually is a dry cleaner that, once you visit it, will probably ruin the idea of all cleaners being the same in your mind. It's like dining at Trotter's, following up with a meal at McDonald's, then trying to convince yourself it's all just food, anyway. Davis Imperial is not just a dry-cleaner--they're a family-owned business that heavily infiltrates the wedding and fashion community of Chicago, and one that you should know if you happen to have a wedding coming up, or if you have even one piece in your closet that you highly value.
At this stage in life, my closet can be divided into two parts--the majority of pieces, which are great but could be easily replaced, and a smaller, more valued segment of heirlooms, investment items, and consignment store couture finds. For the dominating section, laundry time is more about color division and less about actually reading what’s on the tag--toss anything in cold and at least you’re betting high on the colors not bleeding. But the chunk of clothes I really don’t want damaged are the ones I might be willing to spend a few more dollars on when the occasion calls for it--like, say, for an interview, a big date night, or, of course, wedding events. Like my friend who went to pick up her bridesmaid’s dress the night before she had to leave for an out-of-town wedding only to find the tailor closed, I would also love a cleaners I knew I could call on in the case of an emergency, and one I trusted to always come through for me.
Davis Imperial somehow blends both of those things--truly high-end expertise and care, (they service an endless amount of couture retailers and clientele in the city) with the type of service found at mom-and-pop-run shops of our youth (indeed, the entire operation is headed by Lynda Wood, whose parents founded the business in 1956, her husband Rick, and their son Jordan). The stories I have heard from brides regarding this place would take up a whole weeks’ worth of posts--late night calls of forgetting a key piece the night before a wedding (Jordan drove all the way to the bride’s house at night to drop it off!); additional hours spent on a woman’s wedding dress (that was her mother’s) without extra charge so that she could honor her mom’s memory in a way the family felt was deserved; and even a customer who called from Florida about his ruined tuxedo for the Woods to recommend a preferred cleaner near his hotel so that he could receive an emergency fix before his daughter’s wedding. Whatever the tale, the common theme is being treated like a person--not a price tag.
And now, I am extra excited because Davis Imperial is allowing me to run their own blog, “Behind the Seams”, which will allow everyone a look at how clothing care really is a fascinating topic--one that includes the best fashion, wedding, and events this city has to offer. Like, for example, did you know that Davis Imperial meets with a number of the city’s highest-end fashion brands to review their look books with them even before they’re released to the public, just so that they’re best prepared for any new fabrics, cuts and designs when it comes to cleaning and care? I didn’t either. And trust me, that’s just the beginning.
If you’re looking for a place to take those piece you love that will love them even more than you do, head over to Davis Imperial and check them out. And if you’d like, you can follow my stories on their blog every week at Behind the Seams, or like them on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.
And I’d love to hear--have you ever visited them? Please share!
Thanks for reading! See you back here tomorrow.