A Century of Fashion, Israeli Style

By Sarah Kricheff

Published May 15, 2008, issue of May 23, 2008.
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‘Tel Aviv is unbelievable in terms of the fashion scene,” said Fern Penn, who has worked in various areas of the fashion industry for the past 25 years. Indeed, five years ago Penn was so taken with the styles in Israel that she decided to fully immerse herself in that world.

“I said to my husband, ‘We must open a store.’”

Today, she and her husband, Leslie, own and run Rosebud, a boutique in Manhattan that exclusively sells clothing, jewelry, handbags and home accessories that were designed and made in Israel.

But Rosebud is not just another upscale shop. The Penns keep things interesting with rotating art exhibits, usually concepts born of Fern’s vivid imagination. “I’m always coming up with a different idea,” she said. And earlier this year, with Israel’s 60th anniversary approaching, she was inspired once again.

For the next several weeks, Rosebud will host an exhibit dedicated to Israeli fashion, featuring vintage clothing from the past century. The SoHo-based store is showcasing evening gowns and dresses by Ata, Gottex and Maskit, dating from the 1950s through the ’70s; early 20th-century embroidered blouses, and shirts handmade by kibbutzniks.

Penn searched flea markets and vintage stores in Israel to find the pieces. Some 18 items are on display.

“It’s really bringing a lot of people into the store, which is fun,” Penn said. “People want to buy the things.” Fashionistas with a love for the styles of bygone eras, however, will be disappointed: The threads are not up for sale.

The exhibit also includes vintage fashion photos by famed Israeli photojournalist Rudi Weissenstein.


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