Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Expensive Clothes Hangers for the Rich!

I feel rather sure none of us have ever recovered from actress Joan Crawford's emotional meltdown in the film Mommie Dearest when she screams at her terrified daughter No Wire Hangers! That disturbing memory has carried over into my job as the butler in a billionaire's home, and I've made sure there are no wire hangers to be found anywhere on this property.

In this house all garments are now hung on matching wooden hangers, all carefully turned in the same direction and evenly spaced in between. But what kind of hangers do rich people use and where do we get them?

Remember in nice department stores where everything is hung on wooden hangers with the store's name or emblem printed in gold or silver lettering on each hanger? Well, there are companies in this world that design exclusive custom-made hangers not only for department stores but also for famous clothes designers, fine hotels, and even for private homes.

These companies will imprint your initials, your family crest, your corporate emblem, whatever you wish onto high-quality polished wooden hangers - and it's going to cost you a small fortune. Just take a look at this link The Most Expensive Journal describing a hanger - one hanger that costs $460!

More down to earth, take a look at Henry Hanger Company of America, one of the oldest and most respected hanger companies in America, serving both commercial and private clientele. This is where we get our stuff. They do a great job with custom logos and our closets look spectacular. 

I know how extravagant this all must sound, but if your wardrobe is full of designer gowns. furs, and $20,000 haute couture cocktail dressers, thin wire hangers just won't do. You'll want the very best garment-specific hangers available to help keep their shape and to display them properly.

Thanks for dropping in this evening,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Social Season in a Billionaire's World!

The long summer months have finally passed, and now the Social Season is upon us once again. As the Butler in a billionaire’s home, this begins the time of year when we all gear up for the non-stop onslaught of parties, galas and other events, and put forth every ounce of energy we can muster to make it all a success.
I've been asked more than once what exactly is the social season, So I'll try to explain. During the summer months of June, July and August no one gives large parties simply because too many prospective guests are away on vacation. Any parties during these months are usually confined to small birthday, wedding, and anniversary gatherings.  

In North America the Social Season begins in mid September and usually ends shortly after New Year’s in January, when deep winter starts to set in. This time frame not only encompasses all the holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Years—but this is also the season for Charity Balls, huge frivolous galas and those never-ending, absolutely-dreary political fund raising events.
Different countries or regions within a country might define this differently, and actually some cities claim their own specific dates for the Social Season. Here’s an article you might find amusing from "The Reliable Sources" in the Washington Post  (September 27, 2010) about the parties in our nation's capitol entitled "Too Many Parties but Not Enough Fun!"      
I'd just like to mention that the parties during this season are deadly serious in the world of the rich. In fact, "Save the Date” cards are sent out a few weeks or a couple of months before formal invitations are sent out. And as mentioned in a previous post entitled RSVP and Regrets social manners seriously come into play here.
As you might imagine, this is an extremely busy and important time in the lives of the rich, and they go all out. No expense is spared. The preparations for all this is amazingly detailed and absolutely exhausting. But we, the house staff, are all professionals around here and know just what to do, and how and when to do it. 

I should also mention there's a brief spring social season, after the snow melts and before everyone goes away for summer vacations. But it's nothing like the fall season and all the holidays involved.

Thanks for reading stopping by this evening,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cleaning An Original Oil Painting!

If you have oil paintings in your home, whether they're historic and valuable or just a souvenir from a street painter in Paris, you'll want to keep them clean.

But if you're employed by the rich, as I happen to be, then taking care of their art work is part of the job - in fact your job is at stake! We have responsibilities both to our employers and to the art works as well. If you can bear with me, there's two categories I want to address tonight:

Restoration: As house staff, this is something we do not do! Any yellowing of the varnish, any flaking or tears in the canvas - these problems must be sent to a professional Conservator for resolution. Beware, there are many dangerous do-it-yourself websites for art restoration. But are you really willing as a novice to risk destroying a half-million dollar painting and losing your job? No! Simply tell your employer that it's beyond your expertise and take it straight out to a Conservator. 

Most rich people would agree with this without hesitation. But I know of a situation where a famous lady stumbled and smashed her fragile martini glass into an original Alexander Calder, leaving a one-inch slash in the canvas. Hysterical at the time, and her equally-famous host, the owner of the painting, told his butler the next day to just put some Super Glue on the tear. Can you imagine? How rich and nonchalant can you be? (And so much for Calder, who I don't care for anyway.)  

Art Maintenance: Now this is something we can all do, whether your original oil is a paint-by-numbers gift from a life-long friend or an original Dutch Master. Here's the problem we facedust and contaminates (like finger prints) can cause damage, perhaps even a fungus on the canvas. And pollen in the air can cause yellowing. So all we really need to do is keep the art work dusted. It's that simple. But we have to use the proper tools and here are two of the best:

Female Ostrich Feather Dusters: Ostrich dusters are all over the place, but ones made with female feathers are very hard to find. They attract dust like a magnet and are very gentle on the artist's brush strokes in the painting. I found this one helpful website, and here's the link. It's from But you have to scroll down to "Pop-up Feather Duster" where it says "made with all natural mature soft grey-brown female ostrich feathers". As I said, really hard to find. But if you can't, then a regular ostrich duster (male feathers) is better than none.

Sable Brushes: The ultimate in soft brushes. Easy to find, available in any art store. Made from tail hairs of a sable marten.  Like female ostrich feathers, these are great for dusting deep into the artist's brush strokes, especially if it's an abstract piece done with a Palette knife. These brushes can clean deep into those globs of paint. 

BUT HERE'S A WARNING!  These feather dusters and brushes must be labeled and kept separate from all other dusters. Why? Well, what if there's a beautiful figurine on a coffee table that people pick up and look at? If you dust this with your sable brush, then you could contaminate the brush and transfer human skin oil from the figurine to an original oil canvas. Remember all those signs in the museums, "Do Not Touch"? There's the reason. Skin oil is full of destructive contaminates.

This has been way too long, but I hope it's been helpful.   

There are of course issues about keeping oil paintings in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment, about protecting them from sunlight, and about the proper ways to light a painting. But that would have to be another topic altogether in some future post. 

Before going, I would like to say that one of my favorite things in this job is to prance around with a feather duster and accidentally overhear conversations among the high and mighty, while pretending to dust a Rembrandt. You can't imagine how much fun that is!

Thanks for dropping in,