Easy-on-the-pocketbook outlet shopping, the Met Opera’s own dry cleaner, sommelier certificate courses, and more.
The Cleaner of Seville
How do you clean a one-of-a-kind, $10,000 gown?
What comes to mind when you hear the word “opera?” Soaring arias, swaggering divas, and lavish sets? Chances are, you don’t imagine fabric technicians on their hands and knees cleaning intricately constructed ball gowns with Q-tips. Yet the show must go on—and go on without sweaty, makeup-stained costumes—and someone’s got to take those gowns to the cleaners.
Enter Cross River resident Jerry Pozniak, 46, owner of Cameo Cleaners of Gramercy Park in Manhattan. Since last summer, Pozniak has been in charge of cleaning most of the costumes for the venerated Metropolitan Opera. “The costumes are in reasonably good shape when we get them,” says the humble art-school grad. “It’s not as if people are outside with them or eating food in them.” The Met usually cleans simple garments by machine, but the more complicated couture—the one-of-a-kind dresses with hand-painted silk, robes with pieces of bone sewn into them, faux chain mail or leather armor, and gowns with tons and tons of trim—all have to be hand-cleaned. Hence, all those Q-tips.
“The shows can have anywhere between six-hundred to one-thousand pieces of clothing—and up,” Pozniak says. “War and Peace is a big show that the Met just finished. They gave me the costumes and there were five-thousand pieces.”
And though Pozniak has had to turn around an entire production’s worth of costumes in as little as four days, he never loses a thread. “Jerry treats each costume as if it is the only garment he is taking care of,” says Bill Malloy, wardrobe department supervisor for the Metropolitan Opera, who hired Pozniak after he passed a few cleaning trials. “He takes care of everything we send him.”
This includes garments that the Met’s previous cleaners, who have retired, wouldn’t touch. “The first costumes they gave us were from The Queen of Spades—it was a test,” Pozniak says. “They told us that the old cleaners refused to do it. There were forty-two ball gowns, and they were all hand-painted. Later, they told us that each gown was worth between eight- and ten-thousand dollars. I immediately called and upped my insurance.”
Pozniak also helps the Met before the costumes are created, testing fabric swatches to see if they will bleed in the wash. “For Lucia di Lammermoor, they had a gown with handpainted blood stains on it,” he says. “They sent me a piece of fabric to test and see if the blood would turn the whole gown pink.” (It didn’t.)
Unfortunately, he has not been able to see first-hand the fruits of his work. “I’ve been following the opera closely in the reviews, and I get a thrill when I see a photo of a garment that I had in my hands. But I’m still waiting for my tickets.”
Cheap Thrills & Frugal Frills
The thrifty shopaholic’s guide to area outlet and warehouse stores
By Laurie Yarnell
Even if you’re not allergic to paying retail, anemic post-holiday bank accounts might convince you that January is the perfect time to do the discount thing. Head here to splurge at bargain-basement prices:
WOODBURY COMMON PREMIUM OUTLETS
498 Red Apple Ct, Central Valley, NY
(NYS Thruway to Exit 16, Harriman; 46 minutes from White Plains)
The mother lode of discount shopping, bargain-hunters come here to check out 220 luxury brand-name outlet stores including Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Armani, Gucci, etc., at prices up to 65 percent off. Advice: Research a plan of attack before your excursion; you can’t hit all stores in one day.
CLINTON CROSSING PREMIUM OUTLETS
20-A Killingworth Tpke, Clinton, CT
(860) 664-0700; www.premiumoutlets.com
(I-95 N to Exit 63 on Rte. 81; 1.5 hrs from White Plains)
Feel a bit overwhelmed at the thought of acres of shopping bargains? Clinton Crossing has “only” 70 shops, including Barneys New York, Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein, and prices are 25 to 65 percent off. And, because it’s in Connecticut, there’s no tax on purchases under $50 each.
314 Flat Rock Pl, Westbrook, CT
(860) 399-8656; www.tangeroutlet.com/westbrook
(I-95 N to Exit 65; 1.6 hrs from White Plains)
This outlet center features 65 brand-name designer stores including Eddie Bauer, Timberland, Wilsons Leather, J. Crew, Waterford Wedgwood, Hush Puppies, etc. Take your sales-tax savings over to the on-site, 12-screen cinema for some post-retail relaxation.
& WAREHOUSE STORES
ABC Carpet & Home
1055 Bronx River Ave, Bronx
(718) 842-8772; www.abchome.com
(Bronx River Pkwy S to Exit 3; 30 minutes from
This tri-level home emporium features an endless assortment of home furnishings and (duh) carpets discounted up to 75 percent. Reproduction furniture pieces and some exceptional one-of-a-kind items will make your trek more than worthwhile. Its annual warehouse sale, held the first week in February, features items marked up to 60 percent off.
& RUG OUTLET
Saw Mill River Rd (Rte 9A), Hawthorne
This outlet offers an amazing 66,000 square feet of bargains (50 percent cheaper than retail stores), including mattresses at up to 80 percent off in-store prices. Mark your calendar for its Martin Luther King Day sale, from January 16 through 21. (Closed Monday and Tuesday.)
301 Fields La, Brewster, NY
(845) 277-5700; www.casafinagifts.com
Each March, June, October, and December, the Casafina warehouse clears out excess, discontinued, and imperfect items (call for exact dates). Save up to 50 percent on the shop’s wares.
LILLIAN AUGUST CLEARANCE CENTER
85 Water St, South Norwalk, CT
(203) 838-0153; www.lillianaugust.com
Find discounts of 20 to 75 percent off retail prices on floor samples and returned and discontinued merchandise.
M.W. SAMARA INCORPORATED
2 Skyline Dr, Hawthorne
(914) 347-4200; www.mwsamara.com
One of the nation’s largest designers, and manufacturers of sterling-silver jewelry, Samara sometimes invites customers to its Hawthorne headquarters to snap up its wares at 60 to 80 percent below retail. Call for January’s sale dates.
NINE WEST OUTLETS
527 Boston Post Rd, (Kohl’s Shopping Center)
Port Chester; (914) 937-0603
2492 Central Park Ave, Yonkers; (914) 779-0013
Shop the Nine West Outlet for leather shoes and boots, handbags, belts, hats, wallets, and some outerwear, all priced at $20 less than regular retail prices. And its “buy one pair, get another half-off” promotion isn’t bad, either.
500 Saw Mill River Rd, Elmsford
(800) 896-7266; www.twoscompany.com
Visit the Elmsford warehouse on Thursday and Friday, from noon to 3 pm, for discounts of up to 75 percent off retail prices.
NEW STORE OPENINGS
24 Harwood Ct, Scarsdale; (914) 472-1214; www.spacenk.com
This British import offers a delicious mix of the most coveted exclusive beauty products, including the Sheerin O’Kho skincare line and Face Boutique skin, hair, and body products. You’ll also find Nars makeup, the Frédérick Fekkai hair-care line, and Space.NK’s own signature label.
S & S Boutique
480 Main St, Armonk; (914) 730-7388
This modern accessories boutique combines chic designer shoes with one-of-a-kind accessories, many crafted by local artisans. If you’re desperately seeking a pair of this season’s slouch boots or scouring for the perfect handmade poncho, head here.
—Laurie Yarnell with Alexandra Trawick