Style Junkie: The wardrobe curator

Though designs in her shop are not her own, Keren Saroussi's taste in clothing creates store's romantic atmosphere.

Model 311 (photo credit: Yariv Fine and Guy Kushi)
Model 311
(photo credit: Yariv Fine and Guy Kushi)
When asked to pick out her favorite item in Clothing Shop on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, owner Keren Saroussi knew just what to pull from the colorful racks of dresses and chemises lining the walls. Well, she could narrow it down to three, although it was clear that given more time, she would have reached for a few more garments.
Saroussi had a glowing smile as she held up a black chiffon dress with a pleated skirt and buttons up the front, a red patterned day dress, and a vibrant turquoise silk tunic. All three dresses were hand picked by Saroussi during one of her bimonthly trips to Hong Kong, China and Paris.
Saroussi sees herself as a type of curator. Though the designs in her shop are not her own, the overall aesthetic of the store and the dreamy, romantic atmosphere produced by her selections are certainly her handiwork. Providing a soft edge to the hard, concrete environment surrounding her boutique (it’s near Dizengoff Center), Saroussi’s store offers women a window into her own taste.
“I don’t follow trends,” she said, “but I am definitely aware of them.”
This past season, the third since the opening of Clothing Shop, was very golden, she explained. “There was gold everywhere for a while. I brought a few pieces that were gold, but I stayed away from filling the store with it. I bring what I want to see the Israeli woman wearing, what I think she would like to wear.”
Clothing Shop has a wide selection of garments that fall into a niche described by Saroussi as “gentle urban” or “female urban.”
Saroussi begins each season, like the designers she markets, with an inspiration board. “I take pictures and color samples and mold them into a kind of story line. I’ve been importing clothes to Israel for several years already. In the past, I would go abroad to Paris, for example, and just pick out things that were pretty, things that I liked. But that doesn’t work for the store. Here, I have to build a collection, and that means being very specific about what I’m looking for. I choose a very clear color palette and a few shapes or styles that I want,” she explained.
Her intensely targeted shopping has clearly paid off, as Clothing Shop has become a beacon for young Israeli fashionistas and stylists over the past 12 months.
Riding on the success of her previous collection, Saroussi has begun to expand her horizons to include a wide range of jewelry by local designers such as Mary K, Sharshula and Sharon Tesker, and shoes by Michal Miller and Roni Kantor. However, for the time being, the racks in Saroussi’s store are reserved for foreigners. “I don’t see a lot of Israeli clothes that are the kind of feminine that I want to sell here. Israeli designers tend to make very rough, urban clothes. And I think my customers and I are looking for clothes that celebrate delicacy,” she said.
Saroussi is always in the market for more accessories, she admitted. Last year, a line of handbags imported from Paris sold out within days. And the shoes Saroussi brought back from Hong Kong got snatched up at an equally speedy rate. “I’m always on the lookout for pieces that will add something to the range of the store. I’ll do one trip for shoes and then a trip for belts and bags, but it’s difficult to bring back large enough quantities of heavier items,” she said.
Another need Saroussi has recently become keen on meeting is that of the Israeli bride. Clothing Shop is situated a few blocks away from the tulle-filled bridal boutiques that northern Dizengoff Street is famous for. Tucked away in the back of her store, next to the fitting rooms, is one rack of lacy white dresses. Though Saroussi does not claim to offer any kind of competition to the thriving business of her neighbors, she does present a less expensive, more toned-down option for the modest blushing bride. “This is our new alternative bride line,” Saroussi explained as she brushed her hand against the fine dresses. “It’s a project I’m working on with bridal designer Odelia Dariushi. It will include both evening wear and bridal.”
Her desire to constantly expand the range of goods available at Clothing Shop has forced Saroussi to think outside the box. “I don’t ever want to be seen as a someone who does the same thing over and over again, that we only carry one kind of look,” she said. “So I like to take risks with the imports. And truly, the best moments for me are when a customer of mine walks out of the store wearing the things I was the most uncertain about bringing here. Then I know that what I’m doing is working.” Clothing Shop is located at 78 Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.