A Casually Elegant Collection Worth Sampling

The two Israeli sisters behind the local Sample label have come out with a winter combination that illustrates fashion at its best.

Exactly one year ago, the Sample label became a household name in the local fashion industry. That's when its two young designers, sisters Nophar Machluf and Einav Zini, showed off their designs to much acclaim during the Gindi fashion week. Since then the two went on to win the “Designer of the Year” prize at Israel Fashion Week in October. Despite these achievements, Machluf and Zini seem to prefer to work away from the limelight, showcasing their designs in only one store, tucked away in the Schuster center in Ramat Aviv.

Already at the end of Israel Fashion Week they told Haaretz that “it’s not that we want to hide, but we feel we don’t have anything to say. We believe that our work should speak for itself.” Indeed, their new winter collection speaks for itself, without making extreme fashion statements and without artificial connections between their different products. It’s not necessary, since each item stands on its own, together comprising a tight assembly, fashionable and well put together, illustrating fashion at its best.

“We start with our gut feelings," they say while showing their collection. “We start with colors, silhouettes and materials. That’s where it starts, and only then can we see the bigger picture, with connections between different items in the collection.” This time the connecting theme can be called, without any irony, an elegant sporty look. Over the last few decades this look has not enjoyed a good reputation, but it is making a comeback, with the right combination of elements from the sports world and a more tailored look. This is evident in Sample's sweatshirts and sweatpants, and with tennis skirts and sports jackets, which have been redesigned to serve as daytime or evening wear.

The collection may have a sporty look, but the stitch work incorporates high-quality, expensive materials. This is evident in the use of Lycra leather, which is worked into very thin layers that are glued on to the fabric, giving it both resilience and some of the properties of textile. By using this material the sisters illustrate the fact that they devote much attention to material, which serves as the basis for their collection. With Lycra they manage to enhance the current trend of using leather.

An example can be seen in a dress designed like a sweatshirt, with prominent cuts and stitches that connect panels of thin leather in different colors; the sleeve cuffs resemble the rubber lining of training pants. The boxy cut of the dress and the geometric panels give it a well-made contemporary look that is precise and beautiful, with the color combinations making it especially attractive.

A better-tailored suit made of a soft and drooping cloth, brown and greyish in color, highlights the designers' uncompromising approach to the way fabric covers a body and the way it behaves in motion. To this suit they’ve added a trench coat with no lining, made from the same cloth. It looks like an elegant top, giving the whole combination a look of soft, flowing motion.

An outer shirt and pants in bold purple connect the more sporty items to those with a stronger elegant presence. If one thought that an elegant sporty look was their zone of comfort, here one can see that Machluf and Zini don’t shy away from daring: a mini-dress cut like a tennis skirt, made of silk, as well as other turquoise silk shirts and pants, or a suit made of a liquid-like material covered in purple batik-style prints.

Few in the Israeli fashion world can connect with world fashion in real time. These two designers have managed to do so. Photos of the collection which were taken in a Parisian palace manage to transfer the local sensation of lightness to the classic European environment. Sample almost seems like a foreign transplant on the local scene, managing to formulate its unique expression, modern and as true as ever.

Prices: Pants - 600-870 shekels; shirts - 300-3,200 shekels; dresses – 720-5,200 shekels; at Sample, Schuster Center, 25 Ahi-Meir Street, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv. Tel. 03-5291477.

Rachel Rebibo