Until the 1920’s, most women in Ireland did not wear shoes, and, at least according to wikianswers.com, “this provided them with a grace and bearing which is hard to achieve by today’s dancers.” The Irish dancers who are Classic Cleaners customers would hardly agree.
Ever since Maggie Ramsey’s mom spread the word about the excellent care her daughter’s Irish Dance Solo Dress received, other
dancers have turned to our professional dry cleaners for help keeping the elaborate solo dance costumes ready for performance time.
Today, of course, female Irish step dancers wear shoes, typically either “Ghillies” (low-cut soft shoes with criss-cross lacing) or hard shoes with fiberglass tips and heels. It’s fashionable to wear tightly curled hair (which might be “falls” or even wigs). Unlike early Irish dresses, which featured heavy fabrics with embroidery, solo performance dresses today sparkle and shine with elaborate beading and sequins. In upper competitive ranks, tiaras and cloth “crowns” are popular.
We usually associate Irish with the “wearing of the green”, but crimson and saffron and even teal and purple are worn for competition Irish dancing. In dry cleaning these elaborate costumes, the color itself can present a challenge. For example, red dyes lose vibrancy faster than other colors. The under skirts tend to be made of different fabric than the dress, with each fabric needing its own special kind of care. Even steam-cleaning can post risk where sequins are concerned.
Just as solo Irish dancers challenge themselves as they rise through the ranks in competitions, Class Cleaners technicians must rise to the challenge of treating these combinations of colors, sequins, and variety of fabrics. The normal dry cleaning label from the International Association for Textile Care Labeling couldn’t begin to cover all the parts of an Irish Dance Solo Dress!
by Reb of the Classic Cleaners blog team