Markovits is certified in "Ismakogie," a school of posture and body movement founded in 1950s Vienna. "Nimble" modifies that system for an American audience. After attending a wedding with a slouching bride and a gum-chewing bridesmaid, she decided that her first target would be brides. She describes a jeans-and-T-shirt-wearing client who dreaded the formality of her big day and asked for help to survive it. "I explained that she didn't need to change her personality but to look at it almost like a theater performance," she says. To demonstrate, Markovits steps gracefully across her wooden floor. When walking down the aisle, she says, "Pretend you are walking along a straight branch with leaves attached on either side and step into each leaf."
She's also taught senior citizens how to "put a spring back in their step" and consulted with groups of women who want to boost self-esteem without a pricey wardrobe--using elegance as an accessory.
Born Irena Feder--and nicknamed "Kiki" by her father--Markovits grew up in Vienna, where her Hungarian parents had emigrated after the war. Her Jewish mother survived Auschwitz, but "I never talked about it with her," Markovits says. "I knew it was so painful." Fluent in three languages, she received a degree in organizational psychology from the University of Vienna and worked for thirty years at Vienna's largest bank as a management trainer, rising through the ranks. When the Iron Curtain fell, she trained employees at the bank's new eastern European branches, working to bridge the cultures. She remembers a clumsy high-level IT officer she coached in voice and movement for media appearances--her first elegance makeover.