For generations, Rizik’s has led the evolution of women’s couture in Washington, D.C. Specially-selected fashions of European and American designers and personal service have long defined Rizik’s unique customer experience.

The Best of All Possible Worlds: Expert Alterations Meet Designer Ready-to-Wear

In our progressively cyber world—with computers an ever-present part of our lives and technology fostering the democratization of ideas—a pronounced reaction has emerged.  The luxury market concentrates on promoting personalized products: custom homes, vacations, cars, makeup, skincare, meals and made-to-measure clothing, for example.  Luxury is that which is custom, for time is a luxury.  


Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino / Rizik’s


Often, custom is associated with handmade.  If machines are automated and repetitive, their counterpoints are individuals, whose work is one-of-a-kind.  Yet these distinctions are relative, for technology is ubiquitous and people use it in myriad ways.  Furthermore, man creates, monitors and hones technology and, as such, can never truly be separate from it.  Rather than viewing people and machines as contradictory, we should recognize that designing tools is intrinsic to being human.  Determining where a product’s manufacture falls on the spectrum between being mass-produced and unique is a more appropriate inquiry. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current exhibition, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, explores the relationship between the hand (manus) and the machine (machina), challenging the perception that haute couture is made exclusively by hand.  Pieces on display from Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Issey Miyake and Iris van Herpen, among others, demonstrate that haute couture fashion houses use technology not to save time but, rather, for its creative possibilities. In a fluid, dynamic relationship, state-of-the-art technical capabilities give rise to new styles and, vice versa, designers’ imaginations instigate building the tools needed to bring their ideas to fruition.  


Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino / Rizik’s


Ready-to-wear also engages both people and machines—from a garment’s design to its production and, ultimately, the ways it is altered.  Initially, retail stores only sold made to order garments and were staffed by in-house tailors who fabricated clothes according to each customer’s taste and measurements.  Spurred by industrialization, off-the-rack clothing in standardized sizes, or ready-to-wear, became available at boutiques and through catalogs during the 1890s.  Mass production yielded affordability and by the 1920s, ready-to-wear had become mainstream, embraced by the growing middle class and its consumer culture.[i]  Today, ready-to-wear encompasses an incredible range of designers and price points and made-to-measure clothing is much more unusual.  But standard sizes will always merely approximate singular bodies.  To achieve a custom fit, modifications are required and, alterations, therefore, remain essential. 


Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino / Rizik’s


At Rizik’s, alterations are amongst our most important services. Clothes for every occasion are transformed by the fitters’ guided hands, in ways as varied as our customers.  One person prefers the length of their pants shortened, another might select a dress to fit her bust that then needs to be taken in at the waist, or a woman with a long torso may want adjustments to the bodice or hemline of her garments, for example.  


Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino / Rizik’s


For special events, looking one’s best is given particular importance.  Virtually every Rizik’s bride has alterations to her wedding gown—its hem, bustle and fit, or more elaborate restyling like creating additional coverage with lace panels, by raising the back, or adding sleeves.  As Elie Petrakis, Rizik’s Bridal Department Manager, describes, “Alterations are essential to the bridal gown having a flawless look.  Dresses come in close to size from the designers but we need to tweak them to perfection.”  


Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino / Rizik’s


For a society increasingly driven by efficiency, time is our greatest luxury.  It is an investment, therefore, to visit a store, trying on clothes and discussing one’s style preferences with a fitter who, in turn, spends hours carefully altering the garments, employing both machine and hand-executed techniques.  We come in unique shapes and sizes and only individual attention yields precision—an experience not to be underestimated. 

Both haute couture and ready-to-wear balance technology and human expertise according to the designers’ visions and their target customers.  In the best of all possible worlds, man and machine work together, creating things that stretch our idea of what might be. 

Quick-Change Artist

Adapt:  make (something) suitable for a new use or purpose; modify

Transmute:  change in form, nature or substance

Transfigure:  transform into something more beautiful or elevated

                                                                                                                Oxford Dictionaries

In the history of art, there are countless examples of translating one medium into another. The informality of paper and pencil (not to mention an eraser) renders drawing well-suited to creating preparatory studies for other art forms like painting, sculpture, fashion or architecture. But there is no strict hierarchy or linear process to creativity and all materials can dance with each other:  a tapestry based on a painting’s composition, a poem gives rise to a sculpture, a dress sparked by a designer noticing an alluring textile, for example. The possibilities are endless and ongoing, for if we open our eyes to all around us there is inspiration—invariably followed by interpretation—everywhere.   

Berlin-based fashion brand Front Row Society’s philosophy, therefore, is part of an established tradition of artistic practice.   Each accessory collection results from a collaboration with international artists, wherein an artist’s composition is transformed into a limited edition scarf or handbag, literally becoming wearable art. This spring, Rizik’s Accessories Department showcases four Front Row Society scarves. Fascinatingly, Front Row Society shares the artists’ own descriptions of their subjects on the garment tags, so we are able to learn about their interests’ firsthand. Those represented at Rizik’s—Printmuse, Sebastien Alibert, Sofia Brajal and Zoya Kraus—are all captivated by nature and their works approach this vast topic through unique windows. 

The cycle of perception and innovation, then, continues. The scarves are a testament to imagination and what better thing is there to remind yourself of and wrap yourself in everyday? Find the one that speaks to you.  


Photo: Courtesy of Front Row Society



Crystallization; Photo: Courtesy of Front Row Society


Detail of Crystallization; Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino/Rizik’s


Artwork:  Crystallization

Artist: Printmuse

$195, 100% cashmere

The concept of ultimate harmony in macro and micro structures and how to articulate these in “wearable aesthetics” is a guiding interest for Spanish design agency Printmuse.  They explain, “Our Crystallization artwork forms a part of our overall design concept.  It is a study in how a collage of intricate, complex patterns can nevertheless form a clean and simple whole.” Crystallization both illustrates the process of solidifying particles and is itself an example of elements frozen in time, in the form of a textile.  


The Windmaker; Photo: Courtesy of Front Row Society



Detail of The Windmaker; Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino/Rizik’s


Artwork: The Windmaker

Artist: Sebastien Alibert

$70, 100% viscose-modal

The French idiom “touch à tout” resonates with artist Sebastien Alibert.  It translates as “to touch everything,” to be a person of many interests, skills and experiences.  A self-described graphic designer, painter and sculptor, Alibert enjoys the crossover between different media.  The Windmaker, he says, “explores the theme of bleached memories, with a particular emphasis on variations on nature, the season cycle, the wind and the mayfly.”  A mayfly lives only a few days and the wind is always shifting, one season morphs into the next and memories fade.  Alibert’s composition uses a delicate staccato of marks to express movement and the momentum of change.  



Honey; Photo: Courtesy of Front Row Society



Detail of Honey; Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino/Rizik’s


Artwork: Honey

Artist: Sofia Brajal

$125, 15% silk, 85% modal

Portuguese artist Sofia Brajal shares, “When it comes to creativity, I find that disobedience is something of a necessary virtue….  I try to explore and mix different techniques all the time, which is an excellent method for finding many different sources of inspiration.”  Honey explores the beauty of this natural, increasingly rare substance.  She concentrates on honey’s warm, majestic glow and liquid sheen, as well as its underlying geometry, to create an opulent, elegant design.   Furthermore, we can infer that with bees disappearing, the day will come when natural honey is gone and the ways it has been documented, such as Brajal’s adaptation, are what remain.   


Tribal Bones; Photo: Courtesy of Front Row Society



Detail of Tribal Bones; Photo: Courtesy of Alice Cisternino/Rizik’s


Artwork: Tribal Bones

Artist: Zoya Kraus

$70, 100% viscose-modal

The landscape of her home—Australia’s Blue Mountains region—inspires artist Zoya Kraus.  Calling herself “a passionate, flamboyant surface artist,” she primarily produces textile designs that couple her fascination with color and contemporary Australian subjects.  In Tribal Bones she reflects on indigenous cultures.  While cognizant of the myriad differences in artistic expressions between communities and individuals within each group, Kraus ultimately chose to emphasize unity by highlighting what we all share—a body.   She describes, “For my design I thought it would be interesting to explore the core of humanity in the form of the human body, the internal structure of which is the same within all of us.”

This Spring, Minimalism Reigns

Precise silhouettes demonstrate less is more.  Pared-down shapes in monochrome or geometric patterns are unapologetically bold.  They manifest that stripping away the excess and arriving at what is essential is liberating.  And to look and feel renewed is to embody spring. 


Photo Courtesy of Eva & Claudi


Knitwear inspired by the art of Piet Mondrian illustrates that basic forms, carefully arranged, bring harmony and rhythm.  Eva & Claudi Highlight Skirt, $150, with matching tank, $185.


Photo Courtesy of Paule Ka


The Cold Shoulder Top is anything but—a touch of carefully revealed skin beckons, amplified by the contrast between black and white.  Paule Ka ribbed cotton sweater, $275.



Photo Courtesy of Weill


A classic belted shirt dress radiates sensual nonchalance in an updated check and chain pattern.  Weill Tamarac Dress, $640.



Photo Courtesy of Sarah Magid


A sculptural cuff symbolizing boundless energy resonates with spring.  Sarah Magid openwork brass and crystal Swirl Cuff, $325.



Photo Courtesy of Fabiana Filippi


Luxury materials speak for themselves and further adornments would merely be distractions.  Fabiana Filippi Merino Wool jacket with chamois leather collar, $1,315.



Photo Courtesy of Paule Ka


Flirt with the line between innocent and sexy in an over the knee trompe l’oeil dress of delicate ribbon striped organza paired with an off-the-shoulder neckline in black jersey.  Paule Ka bayadère organza and jersey dress, $1,050. 


Photo Courtesy of Front Row Society


Artist Sofia Brajal translates honey into a silken composition of glittering geometry by magnifying, abstracting and suspending its structure in time.  Front Row Society Honey Scarf, $125.


Photo Courtesy of Paule Ka


With understated confidence, the sheath dress delineates the body.  Topstitching skims the contours of the waist, torso and thighs, subtlety drawing the eye.  Paule Ka Jacquard Dress (sold with matching coat), $1,835.


Photo Courtesy of Mignon Faget


Simple shapes become powerful symbols in a necklace which guards love’s pearl with a fence that both protects and breathes.  Mignon Faget Chain Link Heart Necklace, $100, and Chain Link Earrings, $190.  


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Image Courtesy of Paule Ka