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Rising Designer Fits Custom-Made Dresses in Bleecker St. Apartment

By Andrea Swalec | February 12, 2013 9:00am

GREENWICH VILLAGE — While New York's fashion elite rub shoulders in Uptown tents, one local designer is busy fitting women in her Downtown living room.

"There are so many [fashion] editors stretched so thin during Fashion Week that the chances you'll get on their radar during such a busy week is low," said designer Carrie Hammer. Instead, Hammer has spent a busy week fitting women for bespoke professional wear, all designed inside her 1,000-square-foot apartment on Bleecker Street.

"It's like a safe shopping haven in here," she said.

Hammer, 27, launched her line last year with a boost from a Kickstarter campaign, surpassing a $15,000 goal to raise funds to create more pieces in the collection by raking in more than $17,000.

She described her $295 dresses as elegant and versatile, made for a smooth transition "from rush hour to happy hour, from the boardroom to beers."

When clothing is made just for you, it can fit perfectly in a way that ready-to-wear clothes can't, Hammer said from the couch of her cozy home. She said that impeccably tailored clothes are what make a look, not the latest trends.

"People of any body type or age can get something that looks really beautiful on them," she said, noting that her clothing is a big hit with professional women age 35 to 60.

"I think beauty is really in the fit," she said. "You could be wearing a black sleeveless sheath and it could be the plainest thing, but if it fits you well, it's the most beautiful dress in the room."

Carrie Hammer pieces begin with a selection of one of the designer's repertoire of 15 dress designs made from breathable, wrinkle-resistant stretch cotton. Working from that base, customers can determine the color, sleeve length and placement of the neckline and hem.

Hammer or one of her two employees records a long list of the customer's measurements to make sure the dress is perfect: bust, waist, hip, back length, shoulder width and arm circumference.

The information gets sent to Hammer's manufacturers, and three to four weeks later, a customer gets a second fitting where she tries on the creation and makes adjustments.

Hammer, a San Diego native with a degree in economics, worked in sales before she gave fashion a try.

"I knew that wasn't my life path and that I wanted to do something creative," she said.

She packed up from California four years ago and moved to New York, where she attended Parsons the New School for Design.

As a student there, she fell in love with custom-made clothes when she found overseas tailors online and had a few dresses made for her. Immediately, they became staples of her wardrobe.

Now that Hammer has honed her skills with a more mature crowd, she's gunning for the younger set. Armed with a database of thousands of client measurements, she's currently working on designing ready-to-wear separates that would retail under $150.

"It will be the same awesome styles but more affordable," she said.