By Hannah Yakobi
Christina Makowsky has a deep love for the fashion industry that has helped her establish a successful career of almost three decades. Now, the designer is taking Hollywood by storm with her latest collection.
Makowsky was educated at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, but she wasn’t a designer right away.
“Twenty-eight years ago, the French and Italian collections were not really present in the United States and were very limited,” she says. “The department stores didn’t carry them, it was just the boutiques, and none of the designers had free-standing stores.”
So instead of being a designer, upon her graduation, New York-based Makowsky decided to pursue retail. Shortly afterwards she opened her own chain of designer boutiques called Georgina (after her middle name).
“I loved every minute of it,” she remembers. “It was great finding new designers and bringing them here.”
But 25 years later, she found the retail market oversaturated and realized that everything changed.
“I wasn’t feeling it anymore. There was no real reason for me to have a store, when there were all these free-standing ones and the Internet.”
One day, during the last week of September, she was in her showroom, expecting a delivery of a collection by one of the designers. But before the collection arrived, she found out that the clothing was already on sale. As soon as she heard that, Makowsky cancelled the delivery.
“It was really out of control,” she says. “How could luxury be on sale before you even get it delivered and before the client wears it?”
Makowsky decided to start making her own clothes and the demand from the clients grew fast. She soon realized that her clothing was becoming popular and that she didn’t want to do retail anymore.
“So I went home one night and said to my husband: You know what, I’m done. It’s over! I’m closing the business,” she remembers.
“I had an amazing career in retail and I loved every minute of it. It helped me understand what really works on the body and what are the key elements that people are going to buy.”
Makowsky closed her retail business on Feb.28, 2009 and opened a design studio the following day. The first piece she designed was a cowl-back sequined gown for her friend, which she wore to her son’s Bar Mitzvah. And so the business started to grow.
“My style is classic with an edge,” says Makowsky. “I believe in simple styles that really contour your body and I usually stay true to the basic colours. I want to give my clients value, I want it to be made in America and I want the clothes to be of limited distribution.”
She mostly sells her clothing online, but also does a lot of trunk shows, many of which are in support of different charities. Some of these include Jacob’s Cure, Operation Smile and the Red Cross.
Makowsky’s pieces have already been worn by Cheryl Burke, Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul, among many other stars. Her latest collections are the Red Carpet line and the spring/summer 2012 line.
The former consists of 10 pieces that will be worn by 10 celebrities at the Oscars, the People’s Choice Awards, the Grammys and other Red Carpet events. Three dresses are already taken. All outfits will be named after each celebrity, then redone in more affordable fabrics and sold online, with part of the proceeds going towards each celebrity’s charity of choice.
“I am absolutely stunned at all the attention I’m getting from this collection,” says Makowsky. “I was excited to bring it to L.A., but I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would have this reaction.”
She describes her other line – the spring/summer collection – as very light and ethereal, where she took very classic styles and very couture fabrics, and made them look a bit edgy. It is coming out early next year.
So who is her biggest critic and her biggest supporter?
“I am, absolutely, my biggest critic, no question about it!” laughs Makowsky. “One of my biggest supporters is my dear friend Lisa Vanderpump [from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills]. She has one of my dresses in 16 versions! We keep re-colouring and re-fabricating it. It’s a short-sleeve number, usually made from stretch fabric.”
As Makowsky prepares for next year, and her business continues to grow, she plans to stay true to her design philosophy.
“It’s really important to me that everything is made in America,” she says. “The collections are also about trying to bring the awareness – so that we all really understand that we need to keep jobs in America. It’s a hard time now and everyone has to do whatever they can, to help better our country!”
Christina Makowsky spring/summer 2012 collection
Photography provided courtesy of the designer.