The debut of Daniella

Jerusalem welcomes a new fashion label for religious girls with a stylish bent.

At the official launch of the Daniella label last Sunday night, with a fashion show at Katamon’s Hibba Center (photo credit: Courtesy)
At the official launch of the Daniella label last Sunday night, with a fashion show at Katamon’s Hibba Center
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 Ever since she was first able to draw as a young girl in London, Daniella Avihod, 34, one of five siblings and mother of four children aged two to 10, was interested in designing clothes. In fact, as she was growing up, she designed special occasion clothes for her sisters and other relatives. Her dream was to become a high-class fashion designer; but her father, a dentist, did his utmost to dissuade her because he wanted her to have a career in some branch of medicine.
When Avihod finished high school, her parents sent her to Jerusalem to study at the Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim seminary. After that, she enrolled at the Hebrew University, where she studied biology. On the day of her last exam, Avihod contacted Shenkar College of Engineering and Design and enrolled in a one-year design course. There, she also picked up some of the finer points of dressmaking.
She is married to Yarden Avihod, a Jerusalemite whose family moved to Los Angeles when he was five years old. He returned to Israel at 17 and met his future wife when she was a student and he was a soldier. They married in 2003. Yarden’s brother Guy is a co-founder of The Boydem, the successful second-hand boutique that helps the mentally challenged attain self-confidence by working in the store. After a brief running in period, The Boydem’s second store opened last week in Zion Square.
Daniella already knew about pattern- making and cloth-cutting, having gained additional experience while observing her husband’s aunt, who specializes in making wedding dresses.
When she contacted Shenkar, she was already married and therefore no longer beholden to her father, who has since become very supportive of her career choice. She was more or less free to do as she wanted and to pursue her dream.
However, by the time she finished her course, she was already a mother, the kind of mother who believes in being a full-time parent. But that didn’t stop her making garments for relatives and friends or selling accessories here and there, but she couldn’t really set up a business until her youngest child entered kindergarten.
Even so, only her mornings are free.
From 1 to 8 p.m. she gives most of her attention to her children. After 8, if she and her husband are not otherwise socially or culturally occupied, she can focus on fashion.
On Sunday night, Avihod officially launched the Daniella label for religious girls and young women with a fashion show at the Hibba Center in Katamon.
Over the years, she had shared her design ambitions with friends. Once her launch collection was ready, she asked those of them with daughters if the girls had ever thought of being fashion models.
The upshot was that there were 20 girls aged 11 to 16 modeling Avihod’s dresses. The girls came from Modi’in, Beit Shemesh and various parts of Jerusalem.
There were a couple of seminary students from London as well. None of them had modeled before, but all of them said they had a lot of fun making their debut on the runway. Despite the fact that there had been no rehearsals, the show was fast paced, with most of the girls smiling and walking gracefully, though some were clearly embarrassed and did not hold their heads high enough. And despite the inclement weather, there was a fairly good attendance.
The fashion collection was built around six basic designs produced in a variety of comfortable, breathable fabrics in both solid colors and vivid prints.
The diversity of fabrics, coupled with the differences in the shape and height of the models, gave an individual aura to each dress.
Her aim, said Avihod, was to design flattering clothes that were modest in terms of neckline, sleeve length and hemline, while exuding a sense of fashion, funk and fun. Other than for some trimmings, the designer did not use black because she wanted to create clothing that was vivid and eye-catching. She tested all the fabrics to ensure that they were washable, easy care and stretchy. Having stretch fabrics for teens and tweens is important, she emphasized, because adolescent girls are developing, especially in the upper torso, and there is no point in their buying dresses that would be too tight in the chest within a few months.
The dresses will retail at around NIS 200.
There was a 10 percent discount for the attendees on the night of the launch, plus a discount for the models.
Eleven-year-old Ma’ayan Rockman had gone to the show with her mother, Gila, and a friend, expecting to be a spectator. But one of the models hadn’t shown up, and Ma’ayan was asked to take her place. She loved the dress that she was modeling, and her mother bought it for her, as well as a dress for her friend.
“Daniella has been talking about this for years,” said Gila Rockman, who shared her daughter’s appreciation of the collection. “Ma’ayan likes to choose her own clothes, and she would have picked the blue print dress with the deep navy bustier inset, even if she hadn’t been modeling it.”
Ariella Fidler, another 11-year-old, was very excited to be in the show. Like Ma’ayan, she loved her brightly colored print dress. Her mother preferred another dress, so they bought both.
“It’s her bat mitzva year,” explained Hadassah Fidler, “and she needs dresses.”
Ariella was happy to have a dress that did not require a cardigan on top or a T-shirt underneath, which is the common mode of attire in religious circles. It was a solution that many young religious women found when they wanted to wear the revealing sundresses worn by their secular contemporaries.
Ronit Reichel, 15, who already had a womanly figure, modeled a simple longsleeved olive green sack dress without a defined waist but with a vertical side frill running from the shoulder to the hem.
“I love it,” she said, “and so does my mother.”
She was equally keen to buy other dresses in the collection.
All this was music to Avihod’s ears, less because of the financial aspect but because her creations were so popular with the girls and their mothers. Very often, mothers and daughters cannot agree on matters of clothing, but here the mothers not only liked what their daughters were wearing but were also happy to add more to their closets. The garments – some with dropped waists and slightly flared skirts or with no waist and batwing sleeves – were equally suitable for girls and women, and some of the mothers bought dresses for themselves, as well as for their daughters.
Avihod has offers from a couple of stores in Modi’in and Ra’anana, but before she starts manufacturing for them, she’s off to London for a couple of shows there. Some of her friends in London go to Zara, buy two or three dresses and then go to their dressmakers to have copies made with suitable adjustments for the religiously observant. Such adjustments will not be necessary with the Daniella collection. Even though the London market is different than that of Jerusalem, Avihod has a feeling after the response to her launch that she will do well because her creations are equally suitable for Har Nof and for Gateshead.