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Area fashion designers now have local fabric source

Area fashion designers now have local fabric source

As Arizona’s fashion industry continues to take root, a business at Tempe’s fashion incubator is supplying the fabric for that growth.

The Fabric Studio at 132 E. 6th St. is giving designers a place to get the material they need to create fashions and begin their careers.

“We act as brokers,” said Mari Elena Fagre, one of two partners in the business. “We know all about the products. We can help designers get fabric, and then get it again.”

“Designers get fabric to create something, but then getting more can be a problem,” said Mabel Cortez, the other partner. “The designers know they can get fabric on reorder from us.

“Fabric stores cater to the public only,” she said. “But here, now you have a place that understands designers because we are designers.”

Cortez has been a fashion designer for over 10 years, and Fagre used to be a swimsuit designer.

In April, they opened the Fabric Studio in the basement of FABRiC, the Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center, a Tempe incubator. It operates at the site of the former Tempe Performing Arts Center. Its founders hope to make Arizona a fashion destination.

“It’s a unique place to have available,” Fagre said. “It’s a one-stop shop with the incubator.”

The Fabric Studio stocks a variety of fabrics – cotton, linens, silk, wool and more. And they can get them from Los Angeles, Japan, Europe, India and elsewhere. The studio also offers sewing tools and trims.

Fabric usually is sold in large quantities. Designers have a problem getting more than just a little at a decent price, so the Fabric Studio can pool resources and get what designers need.

They can also get it cheaper – wholesale for designers, and discounted retail for the public.

“One designer needed pleather,” Cortez said. “It was $30 a yard at Jo-Ann’s, but $18 here.”

An additional service the studio offers is consulting to help designers find the perfect fabric and trim for their collections.

“More designers out there need guidance,” Cortez said. “They’re trying to get on the map.

“We’ve helped designers in New York, Oregon, even Iowa.”

The pair are working on an online store as well, offering sourcing for fabric.

“Designers are excited by it,” Fagre said. “And not just fabric, but everything else.”

The two see a bright future, both for fashion in Tempe and for themselves.

“I see more brands produced in Arizona,” Cortez said.

“We hope to grow bigger and better,” Fagre said. “Not only get designers from Arizona, but from other states as well. Retail as well.”

“Right now, we’re relying on Google Maps, Facebook ads and word of mouth,” Cortez said. “We’re trying to do more advertising. By the fall, we hope to have a bigger presence.”

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Rizik’s has been dressing D.C. women

Rizik’s has been dressing D.C. women since Teddy Roosevelt was president. It’s not stopping now

It wouldn’t have been surprising if Rizik’s had closed.

After 109 years in business, much of it from the corner of Connecticut Avenue and L Street in Northwest Washington, the family-owned fashion boutique had run out of family members who wanted to devote their professional lives to hemlines, alterations and the ever-changing moods of first-time brides. A good percentage of the store’s loyal customer base had retired, moved away or died. The Internet had upended the model for independent retail. Rizik’s was not a business with a bright, shining future. It was “challenged,” as one family member diplomatically described it.

But Rizik’s didn’t close. Despite the familial shifts, the cultural upheaval and the dying off, Rizik’s refused to go quietly into history.

Instead, at the end of July 2016, Rizik’s shuttered its doors. Not for good, a sign promised, but for a major renovation — one that dragged on and left more than a few people suspicious that the darkened interior was really just the beginning of the end. “I was not confident at all they’d reopen,” said customer Janet Janjigian.

But then, on April 17, Rizik’s returned. There was no party. No drumroll. The family just turned on the lights and unlocked the doors.

It wasn’t dramatic, but it was remarkable.

The store, originally called Rizik Brothers, opened at F and 15th streets in 1908, a time when life moved more slowly and with greater formality.

The Rizik brothers had come from Lebanon at the turn of the 20th century and established themselves as haberdashers importing lace from Europe. After saving a bit of seed money, they opened their own dress shop and began selling ready-to-wear, which was beginning to blossom in New York.

Rizik’s catered to the well-to-do, to women who had social clout and busy social calendars. The brothers became known for their attention to detail and their customer service. A woman in a pinch could walk into the boutique, buy an evening gown for a formal dinner later that same day, and have it altered in time to make the cocktail hour.

In its heyday, which lasted into the late 1980s, when gross sales were reportedly about $4 million a year, customers from Mamie Eisenhower to journalist Helen Thomas shopped there for professional wardrobes and inaugural ballgowns, wedding dresses and little pick-me-ups.

There was nothing edgy about Rizik’s. It was a store filled with glimmering chandeliers and soft love seats, deep pile carpeting and hushed tones. The day-to-day business was overseen by two second-generation sisters: Miss Renee and Miss Maxine, who even today have a quietly firm demeanor, but one that always allowed for this mantra: The customer is always right.

“If the customer says it’s black and you know it’s navy — it’s black,” says Maxine Rizik Tanous. “You never asked a customer her size. You never asked what she wanted to pay. You asked her what she wanted. And whatever she wanted, you gave it to her. You never let a customer go out disappointed.”

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The Story Behind Princess Diana's Iconic Wedding Dress

It's hard to believe that Princess Diana was still a teenager when she first headed into designer Elizabeth Emanuel's studio for her first wedding dress fitting, but the 19-year-old was already becoming the woman the world would watch walk down the aisle on her wedding day. And Emanuel, who now runs her own fashion line, is sharing exactly what it was like to work with the future princess.


It turns out that when the then-Lady Diana Spencer first called the studio, Emanuel made a mistake about her name–and was completely surprised when the king's fiancée walked in for that initial meeting. "There was instant recognition when she walked through the door," the designer shared, according to People.

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Emanuel and her husband David went on to create the iconic gown in complete secrecy, and Emanuel notes that their decision to make Diana's bridal train as long as possible was largely because "St. Paul's Cathedral is a really big area to fill." "She was just lovely, really kind of easy going," she said of the princess. "We never had any special instructions about how to make the wedding dress. That added a bit to the fun of it all, made it a bit of an adventure."

And as for the big day itself? That low-key approach remained consistent. Bridesmaid India Hicks shared that Diana wore jeans and watched TV while her tiara was placed on her head, and Emanuel recalls a similarly put-together princess. "She was incredibly together and wasn't panicking," the designer recalled. "But I was really worried about all things that could possibly go wrong. We'd taken smelling salts, glucose tablets–what if she feels faint? What if she passes out? Spills something down her skirt? I had this kind of horror that maybe the train would drop off. We sewed her into things, we pinned her into things."

Fortunately, the big moment passed without incident. "It's always been about a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis," Emanuel said. "And that is her story, really. She was emerging into a new world, a new life's adventure."

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