Style Junky: The soufflé philosophy

In her boutique in Tel Aviv's center, designer Anya Fleet offers fine clothing with her individual approach to life, business.

Anya Fleet collection 390 (photo credit: Victor Ben Zvi)
Anya Fleet collection 390
(photo credit: Victor Ben Zvi)
Imagine this: You have just finished dinner at a restaurant and are perusing the dessert menu. Among the cakes and tarts listed is the king of desserts, the chocolate soufflé. Your waiter informs you that this dish requires about 20 minutes of preparation and that, if you are set on it, you will have to wait before enjoying it. What do you do? For designer Anya Fleet, the answer is clear. You wait. When the soufflé arrives, the waiting time will be forgotten.
“Good things take time,” she says.
Fleet has recently adopted the chocolate soufflé philosophy into her budding business model. For the past four years, since graduating from the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Fleet has sold ready-to-wear garments.
Her petite boutique called Anya Fleet, located in Masaryk Square in Tel Aviv, is chock full of these fine items. However, together with the evolution of her design aesthetic, Fleet realized that creating custom-made pieces was more to her taste.
Sitting in her studio near Hahashmal Park in Tel Aviv, Fleet has all the ease and glamour of a 1940s movie star. At age 31, Fleet has firmly put her stamp on the local fashion industry. Her elegant designs speak to the needs of the Israeli woman, both in her every-day life and on special occasions.
Her newest collection, whose color story evokes images from the Byzantine era, is being sold piece by piece. In her previous business model, Fleet would cut and sew all her garments immediately after designing them. Now she prefers to make a small number for presentation and leave the remaining fabric on hold for the buyers.
“I’m changing my focus a bit,” she says. “If I find a fabric that I love, that I think fits into the new collection,” she explains as she plucks a deep brown floral tunic from a rack, “I’ll buy it and make one shirt. Then, when the customer chooses it, I take measurements and fit the piece to her body.”
This process can take as little as a few days; however, it demands more patience than the average shopping experience. The possibility of wearing a new dress out of the store does not exist with Fleet’s handiwork.
Fleet’s conviction that custom-made pieces are the real future of fashion goes against the current milieu in the market. While companies like HandM and Zara mass produce trendy clothing and sell it at low prices, Fleet is withdrawing herself from the fast food, fast-clothes universe. “Clothes should fit perfectly, if you ask me. I have to reeducate the market, to change the expectation of receiving things quickly,” she says.
In her own work, Fleet is used to calling on patience. Perhaps one of the more striking elements in her new collection is the glorious knitwear. These pieces, which include a particularly impressive garment called “the peacock dress,” arrive by mail straight from Fleet’s aunt’s hands in Ukraine.
“I send my aunt the designs, and then she knits the pieces. They are truly one of a kind,” she beams.
For Fleet, designing clothing is a way of life. Her first designs were fashioned from socks and were modeled by a collection of dolls. “My mom taught me how to make those little outfits,” she says. Fleet’s mother’s continued presence in her store can be found on the jewelry racks, where her sculptural necklaces are displayed.
“Then, before I went to Shenkar, I made things that I wanted and couldn’t find. I didn’t have the technique I needed to make a lot of things, so I found ways of getting around those hurdles. I made this big, loose shirt that had the smallest number of stitches possible.
With my maturity, my clothes become more mature as well.”
One area of the fashion world that already functions the way Fleet does is the bridal market.
While her designs gain popularity each year, Fleet is already very well known for her delicate touch when it comes to brides.
“The first bridal dress I designed was my own,” she says. “I wanted something light with a vintage sensibility. I realized that the type of dress I wanted, something elegant and refined, was missing from the local market. I didn’t want to dress up like a princess.”
She then designed three bridal gowns, which she sold along with the other clothes in her store. Once those dresses were snatched up, she began to experiment with other designs.
“When I create for brides, I can’t be concerned with trends. It’s very intuitive. It’s like the designs emerge straight from within.”
Be it her bridal designs or her regular collections, the connective thread among all Fleet’s pieces is a kind of effortlessness.
Though hours of work have gone into each garment, the overall effect is that of ease.
“I don’t ever want my clothes to look overworked,” she says. “They should always be easy to wear, comfortable and flattering.” 
Anya Fleet’s store is located at 21 Masaryk Street in Tel Aviv. For more information, visit