| 1.5°C Dublin

I bought my ballgown in Manhattan - and it was reduced to ashes in New York

THE beautiful Nordstrum frock had managed a trip across the Atlantic, an appearance at the VIP Peter Mark Style Awards draped beautifully on Dublin's top diarist Lorna Nolan, before its sad end in a famous Dublin dry cleaners.

The emerald-green, full-length dress cost me just $500 (€372) in the Big Apple.

Upon hearing the news of the fire at New York dry cleaners in the early hours of yesterday morning, a feeling of dread set in. The taxi driver taking me into work a few hours later told me that the place was gutted.

And then I remembered how I had recommended the cleaners to Lorna after the VIP Style Awards. As I feared, she had dropped it in -- and was planning to collect it at some stage this week.

I only managed to wear the dress myself once, for approximately three hours at a ball.

I trudged up to the premises in the bitter cold in the vain hope that it might have been salvaged. I still had my ticket tucked away in my wallet.

A man armed with a torch and florescent jacket shook his head sadly and said my dress was no more.

Now all I have is a picture of Lorna wearing my beloved dress -- I didn't even bother taking one of myself.

Bad luck -- but it could have been much worse. Nobody died and people will now be more affected than me.

A spokesperson for New York advised that all customers should hold on to their tickets, and they are hoping to begin processing claims within the next few days, although this could take some time.

According to the Consumer Association of Ireland, there are two scenarios which could come into play for customers:

"If the dry cleaners goes out of business as a result of the fire, all customers with valid tickets will have to apply to the liquidator to be reimbursed for their lost items," a spokesperson told the Herald.

"If it reopens either as New York Dry Cleaners or under a different name but the same ownership, then theoretically all customers with a valid ticket will still have a contract with the cleaners.

"If a customer does not have proof of purchase, ie a valid receipt for their item, then it will come down to the level of insurance the dry cleaners have.

"If a satisfactory agreement between the consumer and the dry cleaners cannot be reached, then there is the option of going to the small claims court.

"If a customer can prove they had a very high value item in the cleaners at the time then there may also be a small chance it could be covered under their home insurance policy."

As for the dress, well we'll always have New York.