Courtesy Photo

“When I arrived in New York 12 years ago, I think there [were] all those signs that pop up when you decide to change something in your life, you know,” said Ritter. “All of a sudden, every magazine I opened was [filled with] stories of people like me who came to New York for vacation and discovered fashion design as their vocation and they stayed and eventually they became successful. I was like: That’s it! That is exactly what I want to do!”

[divider] Alice Ritter settled in Brooklyn and was determined to establish herself as a designer. After spending some time creating pieces for a small boutique in the city, Ritter decided to strike out on her own and design for her own brand of woman.

Remarking on whom she considered to be the perfect candidate for her clothes, Ritter laughed as she mused over her inspiration. “A sort of free spirit, global girl or global woman with a chic look… Or maybe, I’m thinking of the girl I’d like to be.”

Her trademark “French Girl in New York” aesthetic is both feminine and masculine. Inspired by the soft erotic film Emmanuelle, and the work of many classic designers, Ritter’s clothes are undeniably sexy. “[I love] Phoebe Philo, Balenciaga, Yves St. Laurent,” she said, as she rattled off a list of designers with a deep sense of affection and reverie, as though she were naming beloved family members.

Ritter’s collection has an ageless elegance, and is replete with unique and versatile pieces such as a timeless wrap dress and a structured coat that seems to transcend seasons. She creates flowing tops and bohemian print patterns that are infused with masculine sex appeal.

Ritter also pays tribute to those designers who first inspired her. The informed observer can see traces of Philo’s romantic silhouettes, Balenciaga’s play with color, and the structured elegance of YSL dresses that subtly and cleverly play into her designs.

Ritter continually experiments with ideas, as she believes that experimentation, whether with color or shape, is a necessary part of design.

“Right now I’m really into colors,” she croons. “I’m in this mood of mixing up colors that might not match well, but if you do it in the right way or in the right shade, it’s really great. It’s a scary territory.” She added, “In France, we’re really attached to our basics, our classic pieces. I really went back to my roots with this last collection.”

As her brand grows, Ritter thinks about the direction of her business. While most designers may want to design exclusively to high-end consumers, Ritter is more practical. “I don’t want to be cynical about it, but it is a business. You want to reach people, you want to share, and ultimately you want to make money,” she says.

However, she is cautious to maintain a reputation for designing high-quality clothes.

“I’m always glad when people are wearing my stuff, I love interaction with my customers, but you also don’t want to devalue your clothes.”

Although she errs on the side of accessibility, there is one demographic Ritter is not targeting, at least not intentionally—celebrities. “Jennifer Lopez, I wouldn’t consider her my typical customer, [but] at one point she was buying a lot of my stuff. I was really happy about that, but I didn’t advertise it either,” she says. In a world where a designer’s brand can be promoted quickly by celebrities, Ritter shows restraint. “It’s a fine line, you want to sell, you want to be out there, but you don’t want to be obnoxious about it.”

Given the natural charm of her collection, Ritter’s whimsical creations have garnered the praise and adoration of the fashion industry, and have caught the attention of hipster fashion chain, Urban Outfitters. “Right now I’m launching a second collection with [them],” she says proudly. “It will be much more affordable.” Released in July, the line is what Ritter describes as “classic Paris meets Brooklyn.”

For a designer who once played dress-up, Ritter has come a long way.

For more information about fashion designer Alice Ritter, click here. Contributions to this article were made by Catherine Toor.