On a recent morning, Irene Neuwirth, who had trekked from Los Angeles to Christy Rilling’s studio on West 38th Street in Manhattan, chattered brightly as Ms. Rilling fitted her for the gown she planned to wear on Oscars night. Ms. Neuwirth, a jewelry designer with an enthusiastic Hollywood following, emerged in her street clothes from behind a screen, exhilarated to have had a voice in the gown’s creation.
“I love this feeling of couture, it’s so personal,” she said. “You want to be in control of the way you look.”
She had settled on a pink velvet evening column, a synthesis of her own aesthetic and the resolutely low-key style Ms. Rilling cultivated years ago.
In 2008, when Ms. Rilling opened her studio, the country was in a recession. “People weren’t really prepared for that,” she said. “I had to find ways to make things that were elegant, not flashy. Nobody wanted to peacock around.”
She was prompted to move in the direction of minimalism, her creations “pulled back, not loud, not in your face,” she said.
She has applied a similar standard to her latest move, the introduction of a ready-to-wear line, Guild of Hands, cut and stitched in her studio and available online. She and Andrew Walker, her husband and business partner, are courting a wider clientele with pieces that include an hourglass-curved silk and wool blazer, a waterproof silk moiré trench coat and a silk velvet evening dress shimmering with tiny glass beads.
Most are variations on the custom designs Ms. Rilling, 43, creates for marquee personalities — Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, the fashion entrepreneur Lauren Santo Domingo and the artists Marilyn Minter and Laurie Simmons among them — who value her subdued style and place a premium on privacy.