On a recent trip to Los Angeles, Sotheby's fashion expert Tiffany Dubin unearthed a rare Mainbocher Prince of Wales gabardine coatdress. The fit was perfect, but Dubin was worried by a quarter-size hole at the waist. "I just couldn't wear it out the way it was," she recalls. Suspecting it could be salvaged, she snagged the frock anyway and dropped it off for mending at the Fashion Award Cleaners. For $75, the hole was rewoven, thread by thread, and the dress "looked like it came straight from Bergdorf's."
Textile reweaving is a way to save one-of-a-kind garments. But moth-eaten cashmeres or pashminas singed by cocktail-party cigarettes can also be kept ticking with help from these magicians.
Hermès and Chanel sales staff swear by the French American Reweaving Company, which specializes in repairing damaged sweaters. Prices start at $35 for small holes; larger gashes in trousers or jackets run $125 and up.
If you've snagged your trousers exiting a taxi, head to Alice Zotta, who'll fix almost any pull or tear in natural or synthetic fabrics. Prices start at $15 for tiny holes; work takes two weeks or more.
For heirlooms like your great-grandmother's christening gown, however, it's best to enlist a conservationist. The Textile Conservation Lab will hand-clean and reweave fragile fabrics for $65 per hour.
Fashion Award Cleaners, 1462 Lexington Ave., near 94th St. (289-5623); French American Reweaving Company, 119 W. 57th St. (765-4670); Alice Zotta, 2 W. 45th St., Room 1701 (840-7657); The Textile Conservation Lab, Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., at 111th St. (316-7523; by appointment only).
Picks of the Week
DIANE by Diane Von Furstenberg reinvented wrap dresses are favorites of celebrities like Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow. In stores, they're about $200, but at the sample sale, a variety of dresses and tops in solids and prints are available at 60 percent off. 389 W. 12th St. (741-6607); cash only; Thurs.-Fri. 9-7; 12/3-12/4.
Area luxury bed linens are usually available only at places like ABC Carpet & Home and Ad Hoc Softwares. But for real deals, pick up last year's stock at the showroom sale: reversible cotton-and-linen duvet covers in pale neutral colors were up to $400; here they're $40-$80. Sheet sets were up to $400; now they're $40-$90. The best deals are on discontinued styles, many of which are as much as 60 percent off. Area, 180 Varick St., ninth floor (924-7084); checks accepted; Wed.-Thurs. 10-8, Fri. till 6; 12/2-12/4.
Equipment, Philippe Adec, and Adec 2's must-have neutral basics include slim-fitting jackets, pleated skirts, and basic shirts. At the showroom sale, tonsof samples and stock go for half what you'd pay elsewhere: a heather-gray three-quarter-length jacket is now $165, a plum
tweed sheath dress is
$80. Women's sizes 2-12. Morelle, 209 W. 38th St., second floor (391-8070); cash only; Tues. 9-7, Wed.-Fri. 9-6:30, Sat. 11-5; 12/1-12/5.
Meg Cohen designs the coziest cashmere scarves for men and women in sixsizes and 150 color combinations. At her showroom sale, they're half what you'd pay at Bergdorf's or Paul Smith: from $85 for a "mini" scarf and $145 for her famous "double fringe" to $600 for an enormous U-shaped wrap. Throws and pillows in mod abstract patterns and traditional silk-wool-blend paisleys are also available, starting at $175. Unlike at most sample sales, the staff at this one will gift-wrap. 920 Broadway, near 21st St., suite 905 (473-4002); cash only; Thurs.-Fri. 11-7, Sat. noon-5; 12/3-12/5.
Donna Karan New York and DKNY fall and winter clothes, accessories, and shoes are half the usual price at the company's immense semi-annual sale for men and women. DKNY men's suits are less than $400; women's coats are all below $600. Full range of sizes -- but go early. Parsons School of Design, 560 Seventh Ave., at 40th St.; A.E., M.C., V.; Tues.-Fri. 8-6:30, Sat. 9-5, Sun. 10-5; 12/1-12/6.
Trussardi began as a leather supplier to the Italian Army in World War I. Now its sleek accessories and luggage go mostly to Bendel's, Saks, and Barneys. Stop by the sample sale to pick up the luxury goods at wholesale prices and below: a perfect black leather duffel, was $700, now $336; men's wallets, were $170, now $85. And if you can squeeze into clothing samples (sizes 4-8 for women, 38-44 for men), you'll find some real steals -- leather and not -- from previous seasons. 745 Fifth Ave., at 58th St., sixth floor (906-9133); A.E., M.C., V.; Wed.-Fri. 9-6, Thurs. till 7; 12/2-12/4.
ABH Design is putting its entire collection of top-quality Nepalese pashminas on sale for the holidays at big savings (along with European table linens and vintage pillows). The most fabulous of the lot are large embroidered shawls that are marked down from $415 to $265 and enormous throws that are down from $750 to $300. To get in on the pashmina craze for less, snap up a large scarf that was $150 and is now $65. 153 E. 61st St., third floor (688-3764); A.E., M.C., V., checks; Mon.-Fri. 10-6:30; 11/30-12/31.
Gianfranco Ferré Studio is the high-end designer's diffusion line for men. At the stock sale, men's shirts, suits, and casualwear are available at more than half off retail. Men's suits that cost up to $1,200 at Saks are now $395. All sizes. Assaf I Ltd., 632 Broadway, near Bleecker St.; A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sun. 10-7; 11/30-12/12.
Erik Stewart classic-cut V-necks, twinsets, and cotton turtlenecks usually cost $65 to $115, but at the sample sale, they're $20 to $60. Women's sizes S-XL. 1441 Broadway, near 40th St., thirty-fourth floor (944-9096); M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 8:30-6; 11/30-12/4.