Simi Polonsky, an Orthodox woman living in Crown Heights, is an expert at turning runway looks into synagogue-appropriate styles. She grew up in Australia, where she was a personal stylist for several Jewish women, helping them find stunning clothes that meet modesty requirements. Now, with her sister Chaya Chanin, Polonsky is running Frock Swap, a roving New York City consignment store that sells designer clothes to Orthodox women who want to look great while abiding by Jewish tznius customs.
Polonsky spoke with the Forward’s Alyson Krueger about New York Fashion Week and what fashion cues modesty-conscious women can take from the event.
Alyson Krueger: How have you been following Fashion Week? What’s your reaction?
Simi Polonsky: I love the volume in everything. Some designers have more color than others, and I definitely like that as well. I also love the mix. I feel like I see a resurgence of old world glamour.
When you’re watching Fashion Week as an Orthodox Jew who dresses modestly, what do you look for?
My eye automatically pops more when I see a whole look that could be modest! You wouldn’t even have to do anything! Having said that, even looks that aren’t modest, I still appreciate that because for me, clothing is really art. For me, it’s like going to an art gallery.
Is high fashion coming up with more modest styles today?
You look at the runways and there are endless, endless, endless natural looks that are modest and that can be modest. And not only that, you see “it” girls and ex-models and photographers, so many of their looks are modest. And Marc Jacobs actually just said about his show, “Young girls need to learn that sexiness isn’t about being naked.”… The designers themselves and the fashion icon people, they know, they don’t need to expose themselves. They are very comfortable with being totally covered and fashionable, because you can be totally covered and fashionable. It’s not an oxymoron!