Sarah Lacey Dry cleaning; Expert cleaning for your wedding dress
By Hanna Lindon
Sarah Lacey believes that every wedding dress is unique. That’s why her personalised laundry and boxing service is increasingly popular with brides.
It’s a cold winter’s day in Haywards Heath, but behind the steamedup windows of Sarah Lacey Dry Cleaning, a series of everyday miracles is taking place. Exquisite wedding dresses hang from every rack, glittering behind their covers. Sarah’s job – with the help of her colleague Deborah Gracey – is to remove the stains and creases acquired on the Big Day, carefully packing each dress into a personalised vintage-style storage box and returning the precious package to its owner.
“Each dress needs different treatment,” Sarah explains. “When the customer comes in, they’ll talk to either me or Deborah and go over every inch of the dress. We’ll find out if there are any repairs to be made, whether there are stains that need extra special attention and whether the material can withstand cleaning. With us, you can be sure that the person you talk to will also be the one to clean your dress.”
Laundering runs in Sarah’s blood. Her great-greatgrandmother started a laundry service in Haywards Heath during the 1880s, and the family business has been operating in Sussex ever since. Both Sarah and Deborah have a passion for what they do, and they love talking the wedding dresses over with their owners, hearing stories from the Big Day and helping to preserve those special memories.
Downstairs, in the busy, steamy basement below the shop, a series of industrial machines deliver the kind of crisp and perfect finish that it’s simply impossible to get at home. Sarah and Deborah can advise on the cleaning of any dress. “We frequently clean bespoke designer gowns from boutiques such as Mathilda Rose in Lindfield, as well as haute couture,” Sarah explains. “We’ve cleaned a Vera Wang dress with 30 layers of net, and we’ve seen dresses covered in mud and all sorts! Some take days to clean. Every dress that comes in is treated as an individual, and that’s what makes us different.”
Sarah also offers a personalised boxing service, which allows customers to choose their own pattern from a gorgeous range of Empty Box Company boxes – the same models seen in period TV dramas Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey. Both the boxes and the tissue paper are acid-free to protect the dresses during storage. Boxing is the final step in a process that Sarah ensures is kept personal throughout. “We always have respect for the dresses, because each one is incredibly important,” she explains. “It’s not just a wedding dress; it’s all the memories and emotions that are tied up in the dress. We feel that we have to take great care of them.”