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Hungarian-born Ági Brooks worked for years as a fashion designer before she happened upon an ad in the New York Times for a vacant East Village storefront. Tired of executing other people’s designs, she quit her job, rented the space, and launched her own line, at first sewing pieces in her own apartment. Two years later, in 1987, she opened Ági Brooks, moving the shop to its current location on Spring Street. Compared to the slick designer chain stores on nearby West Broadway, the shop is modest, with cream-colored walls, hardwood floors, and a few dressing rooms in back. Each piece in the signature line is now sewn at a factory in the Garment District. Inspired by designs from the thirties and forties, as well as by film stars like Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth, Brooks creates mix-and-match dresses, skirts, jackets, and tunics for professional women in their thirties and up. The soft and drapey, trend-free clothes are designed to fit petite through full-bodied figures, and include hip-hugging but swingy skirts, and tunic-like jackets in high-quality rayon blends, lightweight wools, tweeds, and silk.