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Kelima K Open the door of Kelima K, hidden in a massive office building at the intersection of Noho and Soho, and you’re in for a white-on-white treat: Floating white chiffon, white shantung, white lace are everywhere as a sewing machine whirrs away unseen behind a billowing white curtain.
This is crystal chandelier-lit bridal, mother-of-the-bride, and all-around gala-outfitting turf, that has attracted international destination clients as well as Metropolitan Opera performers since 1998.
Elliot Mann Located in the East Village, Elliot Mann is another charming surprise: a bastion of chic off-the-rack comfort clothes—every item customizable. Whipping up one of the off-the-rack dresses in a different size or fabric? This in essence is virtual made-to-measure, thanks to the cordial owner-designer, Louise Paul, who studied dressmaking first in her native Denmark, then at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
The shop’s staples are all-forgiving pull-on casual and going-out dresses, flowing shirts and tunics, and easygoing pants, all with pockets, all in natural fibers, priced at 9 to 9.
If you prefer off-the-shoulder, floaty or lacy designs, they are likely to come with built-in bra cups, a slip, and lace or chiffon sleeves. Lamb specializes in seasonal daywear collections that evoke the Modernist postwar era—“years with authority,” she calls them, “when women, comfortable in their femininity, adopted a strong, finished, polished look.” Think Jackie Kennedy, Doris Day, and Grace Kelly in their curvy, fitted sheaths with matching jackets, often made of menswear fabrics.
The workroom is out back, the showroom-fitting area up front, exuding workaday charm.These new customers are ladies with style intuition, who know the cuts, fabrics, and colors they want when they see them.And with dozens of hours of pattern-making, cutting, sewing (sometimes by hand), and intricate multiple fittings, custom-made confers an optimal fit that disguises a bulging waist, out-of-shape hips, thighs, and arms, droopy breasts, posture slump, spinal curve, and other figure flaws.These are hardly bargains, but they compare so favorably with higher-end, A-list designer ready-to-wear that plenty of women, once they’ve tried New York couture, won’t switch back.Here’s a rundown of some of the city’s most celebrated as well as off-the-beaten-track dressmakers and tailors who excel in couture and made-to-measure.