The Conservative Kaleidoscope of Colors and Cuts

The well-established Israeli fashion house Gertrud has relocated to a more hip and stylish part of town, which also reflects its latest collection.

After 13 years on the north side of Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, the main outlet of the Gertrud fashion house has moved to its new quarters at 1 Rothschild Boulevard, where it's comfortably ensconced among a group of fashion stores that have opened over the past two years on the ground floor of the exclusive residential building. 

“Right now, that's really the best location," says brand designer, Shira Shir. "Our customers do their shopping and the area attracts quite a few tourists.” 

In the last few years, Dizengoff Street has lost much of its attraction as a fashion center, while Gertrud's new home, where the Neve Tzedek neighborhood meets Rothschild Boulevard, is attracting more and more foot traffic from shoppers. 

This is the third location for the fashion house, which was established in 1991 as a small store on Sheinkin Street and named after the grandmother of one of its founders. Gertrud's expansion to four stores (one a surplus outlet) in many ways parallels the history of the local fashion industry. In light of this, the new location carries a feeling an emptiness, despite the strategic considerations.

But times change, and even Sheinkin Street lost its splendor long ago: Most of its stores are the type that can be found in any large shopping center. Still, it enjoys a faded aura of past glory.

In light of its long history, Gertrud has remained fairly stable. Over the past decade, its collections have expanded gradually beyond the full slip, its flagship item for many years. 

“We always want to be the ‘it girl,’ in the right place at the right time,” says Shir, describing the motivating force behind the relocations. Even if it would be exaggerated to say that Gertrud had the frenetic spirit of the “it girl”, there is some comfort in the fact that after so many years and permutations, the brand’s attraction remains in its delicate garments with their air of relaxed intimacy.

If you want to understand Gertrud’s spirit, all you have to do is listen as Shir enthusiastically describes a pair of trousers from the spring–summer collection — skinny, ankle-length, cotton print with a geometric pattern in shades of blue and red — as “an innovation at Gertrud.” Shir refers to how, to add a little excitement to the kaleidoscope as spring approached, she got together a bunch of fabrics with geometric prints, most of them in middle-of-the-road colors.

Optical illusion of summer silhouette

Most of the designer’s work focuses on detail. Consider, for example, the way the top part of a sleeveless shirt becomes transparent as the viscose weave is gradually replaced by translucent silk, both in the same blue polka-dot print. Or the way the patterns at the hips of blouses and dresses are lightly tailored to create the optical illusion of a slimmer silhouette.

This is particularly evident in a dress with a tailored upper portion and sharply pleated skirt. Some of the pleats are created in a random pattern, not in orderly folds (“My hand decides how to do them,” says Shir). In others, the lines of the top of the garment are more rounded.

Shir designed sleeveless shirts whose patterns comprise fabric cut on the bias, each with a different pattern and framed in black ribbon. The Atlas cardigan is made of delicate net fabric with black rings burned onto it (a blend of polyester, cotton and viscose). When it is worn over any model of the printed blouse, it creates the illusion of colliding patterns. 

“The idea is to let customers play with the patterns, which I think is this summer’s message,” she says, suggesting a pencil skirt with a print of squiggly white lines to go with it.

Shir lengthened the hem of the skirt a bit so she could deepen the slit at its front. “Of course, we also have lots of solids for people who are uncomfortable with the prints,” she says. But actually the colliding patterns aren’t harsh on the eyes. Maybe that’s the collection’s biggest accomplishment — its moderate use of the optical principles of the kaleidoscope (and Shir also mentions that the word “kaleidoscope” is derived from Greek words meaning “observer of beautiful forms”).

The collection overall carries the kaleidoscope thread: small but captivating, and the exchanges of shape and color are charming and delightful, even after you realize that wherever you look, the effect will remain much the same. Most of the garments feature a simple cut that imparts a modest beauty without any great commotion, and the collection taps into a contemporary style of graphic design, falling on the spectrum between geometric patterns and a lightly nostalgic feel.

Prices: Blouses and cardigans: NIS 200–575. Trousers: NIS 570–730. Skirts and dresses: NIS 300–1,500. A list of stores can be found on the website: http://www.gertrud.co.il.
 

Roni Cnaani
Roni Cnaani
Roni Knaani