You know those people that are good at everything? Every one of us has a friend that is so irritatingly talented that they can pick up a guitar, having never played before, and mimic an Eric Clapton song that’s on the radio, or decide one day to change careers and a week later end up as the CEO. Those individuals who are effortlessly able and confidently capable are scattered throughout our society, being good at things without having to try too hard.
If Hila Sharon, designer of fashion label Layou, weren’t so friendly, her obvious identity as one of these overly gifted people could be unnerving. However, she is lovely, inviting and easy to chat with.
Sharon grew up in Yokne’am, in the north of the country. As a teenager, she kept busy taking dance classes in a nearby studio.
After her army service, which she spent in the air force, Sharon studied interior design at the Holon Institute of Technology.
Though she thoroughly enjoyed her studies, she felt there was something missing.
Sitting at Bugsy in Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighborhood, just steps away from her brand-new studio/showroom, Sharon talked about her sudden transition into the fashion world.
“There is something very intimate and immediate about fashion. With interior design,” she explained, “you spend months working on the idea while the client drives you nuts changing the toilet every three days. After all the work is done, and you see the design through to execution, the house belongs to someone else. You don’t get to see your work again. With fashion, a client comes into the store and tries on something I’ve made. And then she leaves with it and I get to see it walking around. It’s very personal. Something about that interaction feels right to me.”
Though she was always one to sketch and design, Sharon’s blast into fashion began with one garment. “It all started with an overall,” she laughed.
“I designed this overall, which I still sell, and I had it sewn. And it went well. That is to say, I didn’t sell hundreds. But I sold three and then four and I was happy. So I decided to continue.”
In the year that has passed since that fateful overall, Sharon has put out two successful collections and has become a presence in the local fashion scene.
On the right-hand wall of her studio, above racks of neatly hung garments are nine words, which Sharon says sum up her new collection. The writing on the wall is a quote from a David Gray song and reads “Sail away with me, what will be will be.” On the opposite wall is a photo of a slim, fiery red-haired model standing in a canoe, staring longingly over the water. These images are the core of the spring/summer collection, which Sharon has titled The Anchor.
This collection is a kind of dream for the modern consumer.
It presents a chic and sophisticated kind of one-stopshopping opportunity. There are plenty of separates to choose from, including Sharon’s take on timeless staples such as washed-silk fisherman’s pants and the buttondown white shirt, as well as several dresses.
“This collection was inspired by 1940s and 1950s fishing villages in Israel. The clothing back then was very simple and very comfortable. Men and women wore the same things because that’s what there was,” she said. “There was something very optimistic about that time, something I tried to capture with these clothes.”
Nostalgia is an instigator in many of Sharon’s choices.
Layou was her Hungarian grandmother’s nickname, a suggestion offered by her father for the label. She enjoys listening to Nina Simone and Edith Piaf when sketching and feels strongly drawn to the modest aesthetics of bygone times. “I make the clothes that I like to wear. You’ll never see me in bowties and frills,” she said. “I believe in inner femininity.”
Though Sharon has kept things simple, her refined fabric choices and gentle color story breathe new life into everyday clothing. The line is entirely monochromatic, with a majority of colors on the black-white spectrum. However, Sharon is constantly searching for ways to incorporate more color into her palette. “I am always looking for new colors and fabrics,” she explained as she showed off her latest designs. “I have this great peppermint color coming in soon.
I am very open to suggestions from my clients and the buyers I work with. I have a lot to learn. Because I’m new to this, I don’t have set ways about how I do things or how I make the clothes.”
Sharon’s prices are reasonable, starting at NIS 320 for a top and ranging to NIS 680 for a tailored jacket.
Currently, Layou is sold in a scattering of stores in Israel, at Limka, Yosef and Banot in Tel Aviv and at Sophia in Jerusalem. However, a customer willing to trek down to Sderot Washington in south Tel Aviv is welcome to wander over to the show room (it is preferable to call in advance). Also, this weekend, Layou will be sold at Dress Code at the Kastiel Compound in Tel Aviv. Layou is located at Sderot Washington 16 in Tel Aviv.For more information, call 074-703-3458.