Arrivals: The stylist

Wendy Lehmann: I provide my clients with the tools to build a wardrobe of clothes they will love.

Wendy Lehmann 521 (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Wendy Lehmann 521
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
“Most women have a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear,” says Wendy Lehmann, who started her color and style consultant business soon after making aliya at the beginning of this year.
As the official representative of the House of Color franchise in Israel, she aims to help people come to grips with their wardrobe inefficiencies and find the right style and colors that work for them.
“Picking the day’s outfit or shopping for clothes is a chore,” she writes in her brochure. “Things that looked good in the shop are suddenly unworkable at home. Money is wasted and precious space is given over to ‘in case’ clothes – in case you get fatter, thinner or lucky with the next trend revival.”
Lehmann left a comfortable existence in London and three grown sons to follow her heart. She joined her Israeli partner, Ori, in Kfar Saba, opening her business in Moshav Bnei Zion nearby.
“I’ve been ‘semigrating’ for the last seven years, ever since I met Ori who is in the travel business. We knew each other as children, both married someone else, both divorced. We decided to come back to Israel on a permanent basis rather than continue with all the coming and going we’d been doing up till now,” she says.
Growing up in England, the daughter of Austrian parents who fled the Holocaust and managed to escape to India before arriving in the UK in 1948, she began her working life straight after high school, taking a job in the fashion business as a textile agent. Through this job, working closely with the London rag trade, Lehmann feels she acquired a thorough knowledge of fabrics, which stands her in good stead in her new profession. After 10 years in London, the family moved to Buckingham, where she raised her three children and changed careers, starting at the bottom of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and working up to a senior position as chief executive of the CAB in Milton Keynes.
“I’d always done personal and home styling, which I studied in England, and when I was coming here and leaving my old job, I decided that I would make it my full-time preoccupation,” says Lehmann.
Today she runs her personal styling workshops in her Bnei Zion office and is confident she can make anyone who attends look and feel better.
“I provide my clients with the tools to build a wardrobe of clothes they will love,” she says.
So how does it work? The first thing is to establish the colors one should be wearing and which to avoid, and for this she has 200 swatches of colored fabric.
“They are precision-dyed,” Lehmann emphasizes, “with exactly the right amount of blue or yellow pigment.”
Once the right colors have been chosen, there are further definitions, like “clear and bright” or “soft and muted.” The end result is for the client to know how to pick the right clothes for a perfect fit, and to dress to feel “amazing” – a promise she makes to her clients.
The same principles apply to her home styling business, which is also a growing trend here.
“Over time, our priorities change and a home can start to feel tired,” she says. “Rooms might need remodeling to reflect life as we live it today. New spaces or storage solutions may be required to accommodate growing children or aging parents. It can be hard to see the potential in your familiar house.”
In addition to seeing clients in her Bnei Zion office, she also does Skype consultations, and finds other new immigrants among her most faithful clients.
Living in Israel is still very fresh, and Lehmann has a certain ambivalence about the idiosyncrasies of life here. Having come to live here without strong Zionist feelings or out of religious conviction makes certain things harder to accept.
“Some things I just don’t get,” she says. “People are on the whole very impatient – but then you go to buy a light bulb and the guy will talk for 10 minutes and tell you all about his family.”
With mornings spent in ulpan trying to learn some basic Hebrew, she sometimes feels frustrated that so many people try to speak to her in English – though she is also grateful for the efforts. Shopping at the supermarket is still a huge adventure, and she is glad that Ori often helps with that.
As the child of immigrants herself, she finds Israel’s attitude to its immigrants wonderful.
“Everybody is made welcome and they try so hard to make absorption work,” Lehmann says.
And she finds most people very friendly.
“In the short time I’ve been living here, I’ve met many wonderful people and made loads of friends,” she says. “There’s a huge connection between people who have displaced themselves, whether it’s from England, America or South Africa. I’ve find it incredibly easy to make friends here. People are always ready to connect with you – it’s like living on Facebook.”
Summing up her feelings about her new country, she says, “Living in Israel? I love lots of bits of it.”