Israeli designer Raziela.
(photo credit: TOM MARSHAK)
“There’s no challenge in dressing models,” says designer Raziela. “Making clothes for real women is the real trick.”
Seated on an oversized, wornin brown leather couch in her Dizengoff boutique, Raziela shares thoughts on the fashion industry. The veteran designer was a pioneer of the Tel Aviv fashion scene, opening a store on Dizengoff Street ages before the rest of her peers caught on.
Now, she is one of the last of her kind still standing in the commercial strip, representing an bygone era of retail in which designers could be found daily in their shops and “e-commerce” was an unknown term.
This year, Raziela will celebrate the 40th anniversary of her label.
“My designs have changed over the years. When I was younger, I made looser clothing. But as I got older, my style changed and evolved. I can’t make clothes for 18-year-olds any more. The challenge with dressing older women is that, no matter their age, everyone wants to look younger. I try to give things a twist to make them appropriate but also youthful. I play around and build looks according to the body type of each customer.”
Raziela has been sewing her entire life. Taught by her grandmother, making clothes was a necessity, a means not just to clothe herself but to express her inner life.
“After the army, I used to go around flea markets a lot. I would buy these enormous Georgian tablecloths and make them into jumpsuits. Friends would come by, and they sent friends, and these pieces went so fast that I decided I needed to open a shop.”
She set herself up in “The Passage,” then a glamorous interlude between Dizengoff and Frug streets, now a rundown relic.
“When I started to outsource the sewing, I hired a woman. She still works here today; it’s been 40 years.”
Most of Raziela’s staff are lifers, having spent at least a decade by her side. The newest addition is Aharon, Raziela’s on-site tailor.
“He’s been with me for seven years, he’s a real genius,” she says as Aharon ducks out of the store to add pockets to a custom- made jacket.
Jackets are Raziela’s trademark.
“I always do jackets. I have my way of making them and I really believe they are the best out there. I travel a lot, for inspiration and for fun, and I pay attention to what is going on in fashion. If fashion is going tighter, I adapt my silhouettes to match and Aharon helps translate them. I play around a lot with buttons, zippers and shoulder pads.”
This season, Raziela has come up with a few new tricks. On the mannequin just behind her a black blazer with an oversized zipper covers the top of an A-line dress. The next look over is an evening gown with a sheer tiered skirt.
“This season I’m working with a lot of different levels of transparency with laces and chiffons.”
Her customers come in two forms: women who turn to Raziela to build them an entire wardrobe and special-occasion shoppers. Either way, her clients are offered tailoring and styling services on site.
“I do a lot of styling for films and television and many of my customers are actresses.”
As for expansion, Raziela has no real interest.
“I would need to build a whole new system to sell abroad and it’s not for me,” she says. Her 40 years in the business have taught her that maintaining what already exists is an art form.Raziela is located at 255 Dizengoff Street.