Handbag restoration is a huge undertaking. You can either drop your bag off at Chanel or Louis Vuitton store (or other luxury boutique), pay a huge amount of money and wait weeks for it’s return, if they even accept it. Or, take it to your local cobbler and pray they know what their doing.
Long Island leather repair shop Lady Cuir Restoration specializes in fixing designer handbags
Restorer specializes in fixing Hermès, Louis Vuitton and other high-end pocketbooks.
Last winter, Carlin Griffin was shopping at One Last Look Consignment Boutique in Locust Valley carrying a noticeably tattered Louis Vuitton bucket bag.
“I loved this bag so much that I even used it when the strap was half-broken and a piece of wire was sticking out of the bottom and told my sister and my friends at college, ‘It’s vintage,’ despite knowing full well that the bag was on its last leg,” says Griffin, 26, of Bayville.
Store employees referred Griffin to Nicole DiMasi, whose help they enlist to clean and restore designer bags for resale.
When DiMasi received the bag, which retails for almost $1,500, it was practically destroyed, the natural cowhide trimmings coming undone.
“I could not see why she would want to invest in repairing this bag,” says DiMasi, owner of Lady Cuir Restoration. “I advised her it wasn’t worth restoring.”
That was until Griffin explained her motivation was sentiment and not style alone: It had belonged to her mother, Catherine, who died in December 2015. Her mother owned the bag for as long as Griffin could remember and carried it often. Griffin had done the same since her mother’s death — to carry a part of her with her.
For $600, DiMasi restored the bag to like-new condition and personally monogrammed it for free with a symbol of a gem that represents the elder Griffin’s nickname for herself and her two daughters.
“My mother’s birthday was June 14, mine is June 15, and my sister’s is June 16, so we are ‘The Three Geminis,’ ” Griffin says.
WHERE LEATHER GOES TO REHAB
DiMasi has established herself as one of Long Island’s most sought-after restorers of handbags, shoes and accessories from such luxury labels as Hermès, Céline, Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, as well as the less expensive Coach and Michael Kors brands.
“Giving a bag new life can include repairs and also revamping the style, which I really enjoy,” DiMasi, 44, says. She hand-dyes and customizes bags with art or monograms out of a small workshop in her Glen Cove home. Most work, which can include color refinishing, piping, metal or lining replacement and custom handles is done is out of her Bayside workshop.
Decades in the business have taught DiMasi that for some people, like Griffin, handbags and leather goods are heirlooms in the same way jewelry is to so many.
“Women are more willing to splurge on a beautiful designer handbag than any other wardrobe component,” DiMasi says. “Once it starts to show wear and tear, it devalues your investment. That is the basis for how my business was founded.”
FINDING A CUIR
DiMasi trained alongside craftsmen with more than 40 years of experience to learn the art of leather restoration.
“Our company name, Cuir, means leather in French,” DiMasi says. “I wanted it to be feminine, adding ‘Lady’ to be identified with women.”
She worked in Manhattan for many years, and in 2009 launched Lady Cuir Restoration, servicing hundreds of dry cleaners and larger leather restoration companies. After the birth of her daughter, Hudson, in 2013, DiMasi shifted her focus to Long Island to be closer to home. She partnered with a stable of local consignment boutiques including LuxeSwap in Oyster Bay, Revival in Roslyn and One Last Look and Worth Repeating, both in Locust Valley. A great deal of her business is generated by word-of-mouth.
Last summer, Matthew Ruiz, whose boutique LuxeSwap specializes in consignment and luxury resale, had a $10,000 Hermès Kelly leather bag that needed minor repairs to its stitching. The fixes would have been costly and taken several months had he gone through the bag maker.
He entrusted DiMasi with the in-demand bag. It was returned to him in about three weeks with the same level of craftsmanship at a fraction of the price he says would have taken the Hermès label a year to turn around.
“On Long Island, it’s very challenging to find someone that has city-level work,” Ruiz says. “For handbags, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”
Keeping Lady Cuir “small-scale” has allowed DiMasi to be hands-on. She employs three people. During their busy season of September through January, right before June — when DiMasi says most people change over their closets — her team will average five to 10 handbags a week.
This year, DiMasi plans to open a boutique somewhere between Manhasset and Locust Valley, where she will provide one-on-one consultations and custom creations.
Lady Cuir Restoration
HOW IT WORKS Drop-offs can be made at several consignment shops in Nassau County. A complimentary mail-in service or local concierge pickup and delivery service is also available.
PRICING Fees for repairs are determined on a bag-by-bag basis and depends on the condition of the item.
INFO 877-225-3095, ladycuirrestore.com
To see before and after photos of Lady Cuir Restoration, click here.
This article was orignally posted on Newsday.com
The process is simple and even if you are not in their area, you can ship your bag to them for needed repars. Belew are the services offered and to receive a free quote or to learn more, visit ladycuirrestoration.com
Every bag receives a light gentle cleansing and reconditioning. This is available for all types of leather, suede and fabric. It can brings the suppleness back to drying leather and thoroughly cleans away surface dirt.
An interior clean of lining and pockets. In some cases removal of odors, ink and make up.
Custom Color Refinishing & Recoloring
First we clean and recondition the leather to prepare for color application . We custom mix the color to match existing. This process is carefully applied by airbrush or at times by hand.
Corner damage known as Piping Restore
For damaged corners, scuffed leather exposed piping. We custom match leather type and color replace entire piping or corner. This service cannot be done to some suede or fabric handbags.
Repair or Replace Zippers
If teeth are damaged then this will require the entire zipper to be replaced. If possible we try to re-attach original slider and match zipper to existing color. When the slider becomes detached or off track we can open lining and repair.
Hardware Replacement/Hardware Re-Platting of Metal
This repair requires replacing broken damaged hardware to new. Hardware can also fade over time LL can remove hardware or even re-plates the existing metal hardware to change the finish color to brass, gold or silver rejuvenating the color tone.
Repair an existing lining or replace entirely with fabric, suede or leather.
Mold Removal, Fire Restoration
Mold is very damaging to leather and can appear after cleaning. Lady Leather uses specialty products designed for this process. In some cases item must be cleaned a few times insuring complete removal which can take longer than a basic cleaning. Mold can also effect color and this service may include color touch up.
Our experienced cobblers possess the ability to restore your well-loved shoes back to new. We can replace worn soles and heels. As needed restore color, hand-stitching or even replace hardware and zippers. We offer many options to customize your repair. To receive a free consultation just upload a few pictures and describe how we can help.