Sibylle’s Style Diary: John Mahdessian on Keeping the World Stylish and Spotless One Stain at a Time

By Sibylle Eschapasse
Sibylle Eschapasse
Sibylle Eschapasse
January 26, 2016 Updated: January 26, 2016

This week’s style diary is John Mahdessian, the president of Madame Paulette, the legendary posh boutique in New York and world’s leading custom couture cleaner. Having inherited a third-generation family business which restores some of the most beautiful gowns, sometimes even historic pieces, to cleaning the interiors of some of the most exquisite private yachts and estates, John Mahdessian learned a lot over the years about style and the world of luxury. The American businessman, well known on the New York social scene, is very proud of his Armenian heritage. In the private life, he is as successful as he is with Madame Paulette, and is happily dating the beautiful Dorinda Medley from the Real Housewives of New York City.

Sibylle Eschapasse: Describe your style? If a close friend were to describe your personality in three words, what would they be?  

John Mahdessian: Charismatic, warm/generous, and spontaneous

Ms. Eschapasse: How did your style evolve since you were a teenager? What is the wildest thing you ever wore?  

Mr. Mahdessian: As a teenager growing us in Queens, I wore your nice dress shirts, jeans, and shoes most of the time. I always looked presentable at all times, never sweat pants or very casual attire. As I grew up in the world of fashion, I have improved my taste, wearing designer brands and custom apparel.

Beside Halloween costumes, I guess the wildest is a toss-up between wearing a lime green pinstriped suit with a lime green shirt from Tommy Hilfiger for one of his fashion shows, or it was many years ago, when I had a Harley Davidson and I once wore just a leather vest on a ride out to the Hamptons. Yes, with jeans and boots.

Ms. Eschapasse: How do you dress on workdays versus weekends?

Mr. Mahdessian: I usually dress with a crisp, cleaned and pressed dress shirt, a nice pair of dark jeans and or slacks, dress shoes, and usually a blazer (linen, cotton and lightweight wool, or cashmere during the warmer months, and cashmere and velvet during the colder months.)

Ms. Eschapasse: What are three accessories you can’t live without, and what’s one item that makes you instantly more confident?

Mr. Mahdessian: Nice shoes, nice belt and/or watch.

(Courtesy of John Mahdessian)
(Courtesy of John Mahdessian)

Ms. Eschapasse: Who have been your greatest fashion influences? Who is your style icon?

Mr. Mahdessian: Good question…there have been so many, I guess it would be a combination of designers that I used to love to work on their collections, like Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, and Oscar de la Renta.

Ms. Eschapasse: What is one purchase you’re most proud of? What would you pay a lot of money for, and what would you never pay much money for?

Mr. Mahdessian: Well, I actually went to a charity benefit where they were auctioning off one-of-a-kind couture items that were from different designers all made with Swarovski Crystals. So I ended up bidding and buying an Azzaro Couture cocktail dress for approximately $8,500 which I actually preserved until the right woman came along; which I subsequently gave to my best friend and current girlfriend, Dorinda Medley.

Each one of us does possess our own sense of style. Trying to copy someone else who may be popular at that given time is wrong.
— John Mahdessian

Ms. Eschapasse: When you go on the red carpet, how do you want your outfit to make you feel? Which designers can achieve that?

You usually want your outfit to make you feel special and beautiful and/or handsome at the same time.  There are many designers that can be understated in their designs and/or creations, but on the right person with a big personality it could work brilliantly. Otherwise those of us that are looking for any extra attention, they can choose a more avant-garde designer that will make them stand out amongst their peers by choosing designers with either elaborate embellishments or designs that will draw one’s attention.

Ms. Eschapasse: What do you think of how others dress and what’s your advice to people who would like to develop their personal style?

Mr. Mahdessian: Well each one of us does possess our own sense of style. Trying to copy someone else who may be popular at that given time is wrong. Understand that someone’s personality comes through what they say, how they say it, what they wear, how they wear it and so on. So my recommendation is: think about something you will always be proud of even if you referenced to it 20 years from now. This will show that you were consistent on your feelings, being strong enough to dictate your own style, and being proud of it as it is a reflection of who you are!

John’s Favorites

Favorite color: Black and/or pink
Favorite perfume: Creed
Favorite restaurant in NY: Bilbouquet
Favorite drink: Tequila on the Rocks
Favorite movie:300: Rise of an Empire”
Favorite quote: “I keep the world spotless one stain at a time!”

Sibylle’s “Style Diary” is a column that explores style from the perspective of choices, and what that means for different people, with personal advice from some of the most stylish people in New York.

Sibylle Eschapasse is from Paris and now lives in Manhattan. She is a journalist and a contributing writer to various publications. Sibylle is also the author of a children’s book, “Argy Boy a New York Dog Tale.” She may be reached at