Custom-made clothing boutique opens in Evanston


Julia Doran/The Daily Northwestern

A new downtown Evanston shop, called Grazia Studio and Boutique, offers custom-made clothing and accessories for women. The boutique opened in downtown Evanston at 624 Grove St. last Friday.

Julia Doran, Reporter

Reaching her lifelong goal, Grace Nowak opened Grazia Studio and Boutique, which specializes in high-end, custom-made clothing for women, in downtown Evanston last Friday.

Grazia Studio and Boutique celebrated its opening with a ribbon cutting last week, which was attended by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. The boutique, located at 624 Grove St., features her own clothing designs, Nowak said. The store also carries items such as belts, gloves, scarves and jewelry, along with Nowak’s own line of handbags.

Nowak said she carefully modeled the boutique’s interior to create a chic, classy ambiance that compliments the aesthetic of her garments.

Originally from Poland, Nowak said she discovered her passion for clothing design in theater school, where she helped work on costumes. Intrigued by the elaborate nature of theater garments, she said she gained significant experience creating intricate costumes for characters of different historical periods.

After moving to the U.S. in the 80s, she graduated from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago with a degree in fashion design. She then went on a series of trips throughout Europe. She said her exposure to fashion in France, Italy and London gave her fresh ideas for her own garments.

Nowak said she favors an elegant style and that her designs are unique due to the European influence and the interesting fabrics she selects.

“I love fabrics,” she said. “When I see a fabric, I know what can be created.”

In addition to selling her own designs at the boutique, Nowak said she also creates custom garments for women who come in with ideas or pictures of clothes they love. Customers can bring their own fabrics or choose from those available in store.

Nowak said she believes in the power of clothes to give women a sense of confidence, pride and completeness.

“I want my customers to feel like a million bucks, and that they’re worth all of it,” she said.

Oliver Nowak, Grace Nowak’s son, said his mother loves to engage with her customers and figure out creative ways to cater to their personal styles.

“She’s always had a knack for seeing what people like to wear and thinking a little outside the box,” Oliver Nowak said.

Grazia Studio also offers standard tailoring and alteration services, Grace Nowak said. All work on clothing is done on-site in a working studio, with the help of a seamstress who has more than 30 years of experience, she said.

Annie Coakley, Downtown Evanston’s executive director, said Nowak’s multifaceted role in designing, creating and selling these garments is “a true labor of love” and sets Grazia Studio apart from other boutiques in Evanston.

“I really am excited more than anything that we have another clothing boutique downtown,” Coakley said. “We have a lot of restaurants and it’s great to have a balance.”

Oliver Nowak said he is very proud of his mother and is confident that all the time and effort she has put into Grazia Studio will pay off.

“She always poured her heart and soul into everything that she did,” Nowak continued. “I know she has the passion and the drive and the motivation to accomplish this and to make it work.”

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