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The temperature is dropping, the sky is graying and the last of our summer clothes have finally been put away. For at least a couple of weeks, our old and worn sweaters from last year feel like new because we haven't seen them in months. But your favorite sweater still has a stain on the sleeve, and the comfy green pullover you thought looked so good on you actually makes you look like a ghost.
And then you - hopefully - realize that despite the brevity of Israeli winters, it's finally time to update your winter wardrobe. Luckily, homegrown Israeli designers have come out with enticingly cool collections to shield our bodies from looking frumpy in the frost.
Ever the reliable oldie-but-goodie, Ronen Chen, offers four different collections this winter to suit every kind of modern woman.
His casual line of jeans - including an innovative jean-linen combo - is elegant yet sporty, while his knitwear is softer in muted browns and grays layered with lace tank tops and constructed jackets.
"It's all about mixing and matching and how you want to look at any particular moment," says the 12-year veteran designer of his new collection. "My style has always been geometric and architectural, but this season it's more about the dichotomy between constructed and deconstructed shapes."
For the working woman who must look presentable from day to night, his professional line consists of blacks, whites and grays in trousers, shirts and accessories. Full of chiffon, lace and plunging necklines, his eveningwear is much more feminine in burgundies and blacks.
"Women always tell me I know how to cut my clothes," says Chen. "On the hanger, my clothes are just geometric shapes, but the way they fall on the women, the way they feel, the way they move, that's what makes them special."
A square-shaped, gray knit open cardigan - which he calls very Japanese - is his favorite piece from the new collection, and his knits and fleeces will keep you toasty on super-cold days.
Layering is also a hot trick to keep warm this winter, and Chen says every woman must have a low-cut V neck shirt to wear with a color-contrasting tank top underneath to complete the look.
CONSTANTLY KEEPING up with the most up-to-date trends, Yaacov Golbary, head designer of the Golbary chain, offers women the opportunity to ride into winter in style with his new selection of equestrian-inspired tailored jackets, vests and jeans.
His line boasts more than 80 different styles of knit sweaters adorned with colorful beading, diamonds and embroidery.
"This season, I love everything with embroidery," says the 52-year-old designer, who has been working in fashion for some 30 years.
Appropriate for women of any age who want to look beautiful, he says, his eveningwear provides a more sophisticated look with whites and blacks cut in feminine silhouettes. And this winter, he declares, every Israeli woman must have something new and sexy in black.
For a youthful, trendy look on a budget, Golbary offers an array of affordable pieces for day and night.
WOMEN SEARCHING for a more elegant style this winter should look no further than Maya Negri's gorgeous, historically inspired collection.
Classic yet seductive, her high-necked blouses, balloon pants, skirts and tailored jackets in blacks, browns, grays and whites are a modern take on history's favorite fashions.
"I took various periods that stand out, like Baroque, from the past 500 years and combined them together," says Negri. "You can play with different pieces from different historical periods. It's extraordinary."
The avant-garde elements and timeless beauty of her clothes are connected to the ideas behind many of today's runway styles, says Negri, and can be seen in Milan, New York and now Israel.
While there's no specific age for her clientele, she says her expensive line of high-quality fabrics is for women who want to look elitist and unique. Though many of her pieces fall outside of an easily affordable price range, it's worth splurging on one or two beautiful garments that will last you for winters to come.
Her top choice for the cold weather is a very long, very feminine coat - the first she's ever made. "I'm wearing it right now," she adds. "I never take it off!"
OUT WITH her second winter collection, Iranian-born designer Tali Rokni also looked to the past for inspiration. Stars like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn from the '40s, '50s and '60s were Rokni's model muses.
"I used the more masculine, rebellious and monochromatic images of the actresses from that period to create a line that's masculine but still sexy," says Rokni. The same images also influenced Rokni's more feminine selection of high-waisted skirts and belts in soft satins and silks.
With a classically European style, Rokni says, she touches on popular trends but never follows through with them completely.
Her favorite style for winter is a narrow skirt belted at the waist with a puffy-shouldered shirt, a look she calls very feminine and classy. But she insists every woman must have a simple white masculine shirt and a pair of straight, classic, black pants to get through the winter - even if you don't want to wear them together. For those who prefer skirts to pants, a pencil skirt is great for day and night, she says, as long as you switch the shoes.
"Every woman who loves and respects fashion, no matter what age or profession, can wear my clothes," says Rokni, adding that her reasonable prices allow her line more accessibility. And with the relatively mild winters experienced in Israel, all her clothes are perfectly weather-appropriate.
MAKING THEIR design debut, Tzavaron Lavan (White Collar) designers Ehud Ziv-Av and Maya Baranis have come out with a collection aimed at real, Israeli women.
"Our clothes are for women with real bodies, not just models," says Ziv-Av of his first collection for sizes 36-46. "And while we are aware of what's going on in the fashion world, we see ourselves as Israeli designers, and we try and incorporate our ideas into the Israeli way of thinking."
All Tzavaron Lavan clothes are made in Israel, and though the materials - mostly silks and wools - are imported, Ziv-Av says they undergo thorough inspections to ensure quality. Their carefully chosen textiles and wholesome, nationalistic mentality set them apart from the rest of the designers out there, they say.
In fact, the inspirations for their collection were the plants of Israel drawings by artist Shmuel Charuvi.
"We related to the colors and textures of the plants, and not to the final concept of the flower per se," says Ziv-Av, who incorporated the pinks, purples, greens and browns of flora into his eclectic, modern styles.
The item Ziv-Av says they are most proud of is a long, purple dress with a high-waisted belt - a look he says is very complimentary to the female figure and is a must-have this winter.
"The dress is a perfect combination of international fashion with Israeli fashion," says Ziv-Av. "And it's also a great price - we didn't come here to get rich quick and run."
The two enthusiastic designers provide excellent tailored apparel for the office in addition to their flattering line of eveningwear, so if you're bored with what's currently in your closet, this is a great place to try something new this season.
"It's the most fun to design clothes for winter," says Ziv-Av. "There are so many materials and textiles and choicesâ€¦ you can layer the chiffon with a shirt underneath with a jacketâ€¦ the problem in Israel is there isn't enough winter!"
Although the pouring rain and bone-chilling wind make it difficult to agree with that statement, whether the weather you cherish is cold or you still long for summer, at least there's an array of styles to help you feel and look hot till spring.
Who and Where:
Ronen Chen - Rehov Dizengoff 155 and Rehov Sheinkin 49, Tel Aviv; Malha mall, Jerusalem; Givatayim mall; Renanim mall, Ra'anana;
Golbary - branches across Israel
Maya Negri - Rehov Haprahim 5, Rishpon; Rehov Hameyasdim 49, Zichron Ya'acov
Tali Rokni - Rehov Shfar 17, Tel Aviv
Tzavaron Lavan - Rehov Dizengoff 233, Tel Aviv