Style Junkie: A paler shade of white

Bracha Bar-On offers the feel of summer in her crisp and comfortable designs.

Bracha Bar-On (photo credit: Assaf Eyni)
Bracha Bar-On
(photo credit: Assaf Eyni)
As the classic song by Israeli band Haparvarim goes, “This summer you will wear white.” Well, not everyone can pull off a white ensemble. No matter how careful one is on a white day, it seems that stains are inexplicably drawn to the stark fabric.
However, there are ways of capturing the lightness and crispness of summer garb without risking an unfortunate wine spill.
A local designer who offers a close second to the feel of summer whites is Bracha Bar- On. Not only are her designs light in color and weight, they convey a sense of airiness and charm. Her Spring/Summer 2012 line, which was released just days ago, is a full-layered collection in sun-kissed oranges and soothing mints.
Bar-On, an institution in Israeli fashion, makes clothes that are sprightly, effortless and comfortable. All pieces sold under the Bar-On label have been prewashed, ensuring that there will be no unwelcome surprises.
“If nothing happened to the clothes in my washing machine, nothing will happen to them in my customers’ machines, either,” she says.
With nearly three decades on the scene, Bar-On has made a science of providing the perfect answer to the warm Mediterranean climate. She is the designer of two leading fashion labels – Bracha Bar-On and Square1. The former is dedicated to what she describes as basics, while the latter focuses on her quirkier, more conceptual tastes. In a given season, she will release anywhere from 200 to 500 garments, keeping her Tel Aviv boutiques chocka- block with gorgeous, luxurious, must-have pieces.
“At the end of the day,” she says, “we all wear basics. People want to buy the clothes that they will feel good wearing.
For me, basics are all about quality and cut.”
As she describes her creative process, Bar-On gingerly plucks a cotton blazer from the racks of her Dizengoff Street store.
“Try this on for me, would you?” she asks a customer who was busy adjusting a printed blouse that recently arrived on the shelves. While slipping the jacket on the elated client, Bar- On elaborates on her design aesthetic.
“In the past, there were girls’ clothes and women’s clothes.
Today, it’s all the same. My line is very young. Now young isn’t an age, it’s a state of mind,” she adds as she pulls another look for her customer to model.
“I like to make things with a sense of humor. I don’t like clothes that take themselves too seriously,” says the designer.
“I’m so excited,” beams her newest “model,” an elegant woman in her 50s. “I love her clothes. Everything I’m wearing today is from here. And every time I go out in something of hers, people ask me where it’s from.”
“See this?” Bar-On says as she flips up the collar of a white cotton shirt. “It’s youthful, but it also has a lot of touches that I take care to add.”
One of the defining qualities of any Bar-On piece is the attention to seams, buttons and lining. Be it a hidden swatch of orange striped fabric in the neckline of a shirt or an asymmetrical pocket, her designs bear the mark of a thoughtful individual. It is in these little corners of each shirt or pair of trousers that her meticulous personality shines through.
Her first designs emerged out of her innate need for perfection.
“When I was 12, my parents took me out to buy an outfit for my bat mitzva,” she explains. “It was a long time ago, and buying clothes was a big deal. The whole family went out on this big excursion to find me a new outfit. In the end, I bought a suit. That night, when my parents went out, I tried on the suit. I got a pair of scissors and started to change it. Lucky for me, when my mother came home and saw my alterations, she just said that if that’s what I liked, then I should go with it. From then on, everything I buy I have to change in some way.”
In 1983, on a stroll on Dizengoff Street, she spotted a little store with a tank top in the window. Something about that shirt bothered her, so she walked in and offered her tailoring services.
“I’ve remade that tank top and sold it about a hundred thousand times since,” she says.
With her personality so prevalent in her clothes, she is careful about the women who represent her. All her professional models are chosen based both on looks and on who they are.
“My models, such as Chen Yanni and Liel Danir, emanate strength, intelligence and independence.
They represent who I want to be and who my customers are,” she says.
Now deeply rooted in her practice as a designer, she offers styling sessions to her customers, much like that day’s impromptu modeling moment.
“I love my clients, and I love to design for them, to help them put things together,” she says.
“The women that shop here are a specific kind of woman. They are the salt of the earth.”
Bracha Bar-On stores are located at 240 Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv; 38 Ussishkin Street in Ramat Hasharon; 54 Moriah Boulevard in Haifa; and 7 Kalaniyot Street in Kiryat Tiv’on. For more information, visit