Article in The Albuquerque Tribune: Coming clean

Kurt Lucero is wondering about dresses.

But not just any dresses.

Beaded dresses. Sequined dresses.

“Elegant” and “very delicate” dresses, said Lucero, owner of the Cleanery, a high-end clothes-cleaning company with three locations in Albuquerque.

And they’re potentially famous dresses, too.

His company recently cleaned about 30 dresses used in “Bordertown,” a film about a reporter – played by Jennifer Lopez – who investigates the killings of hundreds of women in Juarez. Part of the movie is being shot in New Mexico, including The Tribune newsroom.

Lucero said it’s the fourth film the Cleanery has worked on in the past two years, an industry that brings solid sales and good times for him and his 24 employees.

“It’s kind of exciting that Hollywood is in Albuquerque,” Lucero said. “The staff in general was very proud to do these pieces.”

He said the charge to clean the 30 or so gowns came to about $1,500.

“It’s certainly not going to make the business,” he said. “Our base is your higher threshold customer that wants it done right – would prefer it done right, as opposed to how much does it cost. A lot of them are business people. That’s where the bread and butter is.”

Over a year, an average dry cleaner pulls in about $250,000; the Cleanery does better than that, he said. It specializes in highly detailed work, some of it done by hand.

The company has worked on other films shot in New Mexico, including “First Snow” and “Elvis Has Left the Building,” a movie that had Lucero handling heavily decorated Elvis outfits, one of which came shining with an unusual past.

“One of the jumpsuits – it actually said on the inside, `Property of Sonny Bono,’ ” he said. “I thought that was kind of interesting.”

During the production of another film, “Suspect Zero,” Dorothy Baca, costume supervisor for “Bordertown,” first used the Cleanery’s services.

“I was really glad to use them,” she said. “They’re really the only ones in Albuquerque who kind of specialize in that higher-end, couture clothing.”

She said the Cleanery’s expertise demonstrated on the wardrobe for “Suspect Zero” made it a good choice for the “Bordertown” project.

And the 30 or so dresses? What scene did they end up in?

A quinceanera, Baca said, a Hispanic tradition celebrating a girl’s 15th birthday.

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