Back to shul

Those who attend High-Holy day services are surely there to pray, but Frida's designs ensure they'll look good while doing it.

frida fash 88 298 (photo credit: ERICA CHERNOFSKY)
frida fash 88 298
(photo credit: ERICA CHERNOFSKY)
In just a few weeks, Jews all over the world will be making their way to synagogue for the holidays. Whether Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist, attending high holiday services (or at least a high holiday meal - complete with apple and honey) is a mandatory practice for those of the Hebrew faith. And while we're there to pray, the shuls always turn into a social scene - so your outfit, of course, is of the utmost importance. Though "anti-religious" herself, Frida (who prefers not to reveal her last name), designer and owner of the clothing line of the same name, provides an excellent array of perfect clothes for back to shul. Her simple but sophisticated style suits women of all shapes and sizes, and although the holidays are the first opportunity to show off brand new clothes for fall, the summer leftovers are perfect for the still-hot weather of September. Plus, they're all on sale. Born in Russia, designer Frida remembers a childhood beset with financial difficulties, even after she and her parents made aliya to Israel when she was a child. "My mother made all my clothes by hand," Frida recalls, "and I would take the scraps of cloth and make clothes for my Barbie dolls." Though she studied biology and math in high school and went to college to study advertising and communications, her mother always had a dream, she says, that one day she would be a fashion designer. After studying for a few years at the Institute of Technology in Holon, Frida dropped out, she says, because "it wasn't for me." "For a while I worked as waitress, and I met a girl at the restaurant who was a graduate of Shenkar [College of Engineering and Design] and I figured she must have had so much experience in fashion," remembers Frida. "But then I talked to her, and she didn't have any experience at all, and I thought maybe I could go there, too." The first time she applied to Shenkar she was rejected, but the second time she was accepted, and after receiving her degree, she interned at Donna Karan in New York for a few months before coming back to Israel to try to make it on her own. So far, the designer has been very successful. Her first store opened in Ra'anana in 2004, and her store on Rehov Dizengoff in Tel Aviv opened last September. Femininity, minimalism, clean lines and quality fabrics define Frida's easy style, and all the clothes in her closet at home, she confesses, are clothes from her own line. "I create from within myself, what I love to wear," she says. "When I started to design by myself, I made things for myself and people liked them. So now, we only sew what I like and what I would wear. You won't find bright oranges in my store." You will, however, find light, comfortable short-sleeved dresses great for hot September afternoons in off-white, navy, gray, black and black and white. For more dressed-up Rosh Hashana evenings, there are pleated skirts in gold, silver, black and white trimmed at the hems with sparkly beading. "On Yom Kippur, I think it's best to wear something light," says Frida, adding that creams and light peaches will do the job as well as white. "It's a day that forces you to think about a lot of things and how to make yourself better for the next year, and it's a day that requires a lot of light and energy, so I wouldn't wear something dark or black." For the festival of Succot and its happier atmosphere, Frida has pleated and angular calf-length and just-past-the-knee skirts with floral patterns in browns and beiges, pinks and greens, and plenty of three-quarter sleeved tops to match the bottoms. Her look, she says is for thirtysomething women, like herself, but there are plenty of options for younger and older tastes alike. "I don't make clothes that I don't think are flattering, and I don't make clothes only based on trends," says Frida. What's more, Frida claims the biggest compliment she gets is seeing women wear styles she created three or four years ago. "I don't reinvent the wheel every season - I add or change small things, so you can wear something new with something you bought last year, and it still looks great," she says Her simple sense of style is exactly what she sees lacking in Israeli society today. "[Israelis] don't know what looks good on them. They try wild, new things and they're very open, but they have problems with self-awareness," says Frida, adding that when tourists come into her store, they know exactly what looks good on them and what doesn't. "The most important thing with clothing is that a woman wears what feels comfortable on her, what makes her feel good about herself." Despite her popularity, Frida is in no rush to conquer the world with her collections. "I don't want to be a production line, I don't want to have to constantly make new things and I don't want more stores, more employees and more responsibilities right now," says the 32-year-old designer. "I'm very happy where I am at the moment." As we speak, the pretty, blonde-haired designer is sitting in the office of her studio in Tel Aviv wearing a gray tank top and a pair of tan slacks. In front of her are scraps of paper with pencil drawings of dresses and T-shirts. In the other room, seamstresses are hard at work cutting and sewing. Garments and clothes-in-the-making are draped on counters and hang everywhere, and clothes from the fall line are already filling up the racks. Though she won't be attending synagogue in the coming weeks, for those who are, Frida has one piece of important advice: "Wear something new. If I went to synagogue, I'd want to take the tags off a brand new outfit to start off the new year and new period in life wearing something I've never worn before. It's a great way to start the year." Frida's clothes can be found at her store in Tel Aviv at 190 Rehov Dizengoff, in Ra'anana at the Designer's Gallery in the Rananim Mall and in Jerusalem at the Designer's Gallery in Talpiot.