Wedding dress battle boils

The cleaning instructions on a label of a custom made wedding dress is at the centre of a dispute between a local bride and her dressmaker over who’s to blame for the once-beautiful dress being ruined.

Daneal Charney said she was horrified when her wedding dress came back from the dry cleaners virtually wrecked, covered with blemishes and pulled-apart fabric caused by the dry cleaners.

After the cleaner said it wasn’t to blame because it merely followed instructions on the dress’s label, Charney turned to Hoa Bridal and owner Hoa Bui and complained that the label didn’t include instructions on how the dress should be cleaned.

But Bui refused to be blamed — she argues that the words "professional dry clean only" were explicit instructions enough.

Charney and her husband attempted to negotiate a friendly settlement, and proposed the disagreement could be settled if Bui made Charney a second, less expensive dress as compensation.

But Bui dug in and refused.

"I could have provided her with some compensation, but there are times when you have to say no and do what you think is right," Bui, owner of Hoa Bridal at 866 Eglinton Ave. W., said.

But Charney was equally insistent, especially since her dress she bought for $3,200 in December of 2001 can’t ever be worn and her hopes of passing it down to a daughter someday are dashed.

"It’s really not fair — now this dress is ruined. You can’t just put dry clean only and then not accept responsibility," Charney said.

Charney, who also alleges the dress was made with "unstable fabric and bonding," insists the Textile Labelling Act is in her favour.

She points to the provisions in the act that say that a label "must reflect an appropriate method of care."

She also said she took swatches of the material to different dry cleaners who said more explicit labelling instructions would likely have spared the dress.

But Bui says the same rules work in her favour. She argues that the words "professional dry clean only" are explicit enough.

She further argues that Charney should have taken her dress to a dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning wedding dresses because they would have recognized the fabric and would have been aware of specialized cleaning techniques.

However in recent months, the dispute has entered the court process.

Charney took Bui to small claims court last fall and won her case. The judge ordered Bui pay $1,600, half the value of the dress since the dress did its job at the wedding.

But Bui, who said she lost the case only because she wasn’t at the trial, said she never knew it took place. She says she plans to hire a lawyer and go to court herself in a bid to have the matter re-tried so she can argue her case.

About this article:

By: Andrew Matte
Posted: May 16 2003 4:00 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto