Prom dresses get the once over before getting picked over

Carol Cianfrini doesn’t remember what she wore to her prom in 1953, but she certainly remembers her date. She and the handsome El Camino College student, John Cianfrini, would marry the following year.

“It was just an exciting time,” Carol said. “I was one of the few going to Inglewood High who was engaged and ready to get married in my senior year.”

Now, Carol and John — who along with their business, Crys-ti Cleaners, have been a fixture in Glendale’s Adam Square neighborhood for 46 years — are working to ensure that another generation of young women can reflect on prom night with fondness.

The couple and their staff spent the week cleaning, spotting and pressing dozens of donated gowns to be gifted to teenage girls in the custody of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. The prom-goers will select their dresses at an event at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino on Sunday.

“All the accessories that go with it are there too — necklace, earrings, shoes, if they want a tiara.” Carol Cianfrini said. “The makeup is done, the hair-do is done. These girls are set to go.”

The event, dubbed Pretty Girl Rock, was launched about 15 years ago by county social workers who wanted to give their clients an opportunity to celebrate the quintessential American tradition in style. Almost all of the items and services are donated.

This year, the Cianfrinis were tapped for the first time after their daughter, a supervisor with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, suggested her colleagues give her parents a call.

As the president of the Adams Square Merchants Assn., John Cianfrini is used to playing a leading role in community events, such Christmas tree lightings and block parties.

“We try and do whatever we can for the community,” he said. “This is rather new for us, but I think we are going to get involved.”

Dresses of every style, color and size spilled down from hangers in Crys-ti Cleaners on Thursday. The couple weaved their way through the racks, working to press out wrinkles and repair loosened seams.

The dressed were scheduled to be transported Friday.

“We know what it is like to raise girls,” Carol Cianfrini said. “Fortunately, they didn’t want. But we knew of those who did. It is quite a feeling for us to be able to do this.”

Some of the more elaborate gowns would have cost organizers as much as $50 to have cleaned, she added.

“These girls actually have nothing,” she said. “To be able to be decked out like this for a prom is really kind of neat.”

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