The small, unpretentious new studio in south Tel Aviv of Leonora Fuhrer and her partner Sivan Moshkovitz – owners of the Complét bag and accessories company – reveals nothing of the glittering background of one of the women. Until she arrived in Israel two decades ago at age 6 with her parents, businessman and art dealer Ronnie Fuhrer and his ex-wife, Galit Platek, Fuhrer was brought up in London as a daughter of the aristocracy, with four given names: Leonora Eliana Margaret Batsheva.
The press reports describe the family home, which is located in a luxury building in Portman Square near Oxford Street, as a baroque palace that stretched out over 900 square meters, was furnished with original 18th-century furniture, had a staff of six servants, and contained a rich art collection of 4,000 items (including Botticelli’s “Madonna and Child,” which Fuhrer acquired from Imelda Marcos, the wife of the president of the Philippines), and a room with columns inspired by the Louvre.
Among the spectacular social events Fuhrer hosted after his return to Israel in his home in Kfar Shmaryahu was his 50th birthday party, for which a delegation that included princes from Monaco, Burundi and The Netherlands flew in to celebrate.
For her part, Leonora Fuhrer has to cope with locals who cannot even correctly pronounce the name of the brand she has created with Moshkovitz. She met Moshkovitz when they worked as saleswomen in a fashion boutique, and they moved to their studio only two months ago. Previously, they designed and sold their printed leather bags in Fuhrer’s apartment for a year.
Recently the duo was forced to postpone a collection-presentation event due to the recent military operation in Gaza.
The main element around which their bags revolve is intensive digital printing on colorful, high-quality fabrics and leather, as developed by Moshkovitz, 31, a graduate of the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan. She also worked for a year in Israeli-born designer Yigal Azrouel’s studio in New York.
Fuhrer seems to be the moving spirit behind the brand’s management. Although she participates fully in design and production, she is also in charge of marketing and advertising, and as a result has also become the face of Complét, to some extent. For the upcoming fall season, Fuhrer and Moshkovitz have created samples of printed silk and cashmere scarves, and they say they dream of branching out one day into bathing suits and beachwear – and even, perhaps, furniture.
“It’s really a whole story that is more than just bags,” says Fuhrer, adding, “The concept of Complét is something that we will never fully realize because there will always be other things that we'll do and add on.”
“Set Complét. 'A complete set!' That’s one of the most Israeli things to say. It's like hummus, chips and salad that are always together,” Moshkovitz adds. “It is something that comes from the Israeli shopping experience. It sounds common and maybe a bit ridiculous, but that’s where the [brand] name and the vision came from. We hope, of course, that from within this whole package, everyone will be able to find whatever is accessible to them.”
Fuhrer, fidgeting with restrained restlessness in her chair, can no longer keep from expressing her displeasure over the flawed way the term is pronounced in Hebrew.
Fuhrer speaks little about her family, but her Instagram page contains some photographs from the past. There is one of herself as an infant just several days old, cradled in her father’s arms, in a white outfit designed for her by the famous French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, who is one of Fuhrer's godfathers (“That’s my first and last item of haute couture,” she comments).
There is also a current photo of herself next to Givenchy and his partner, Philippe Venet, also well known in France’s haute-couture circles, during a visit to Paris, plus an old picture of her parents with Mick Jagger at her father’s 40th birthday party.
Unlike her father, Fuhrer does not want to nurture an image of herself as a foreigner.
“I’m very glad my parents decided to come back to Israel, and that I grew up here,” she says, enumerating experiences that have connected her to her Israeli identity, such as army service and completing a bachelor's degree in communications at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.
Fuhrer says that lately, she has become more attracted to bags that are well made and have an interesting design than to “a cool bag by some big designer that everyone goes around with at any given moment. My mother has all the 'hot' bags today — Birkin or Kelly bags by Hermes — but they’re all more than 30 years old. I prefer bags by independent French designers who work in their own ateliers and are not necessarily well-known names.”
Fuhrer and Moshkovitz, who have no interest in running a boutique, are growing their client base over the Internet. Their designs are sold in their online store, on the ArtSetters website and on the Hong Kong online shopping site Shop des Createurs. They are also trying to penetrate the American and European markets.
“We didn’t want to jump right into the water when we had no idea how deep it was,” Moshkovitz says. “Over the past year, we’ve built foundations that we can build upon in the future. It was very important to us to tailor our product in terms of quality, cut and of course pricing [prices range from 300 to 1,600 shekels], and to understand who our customer was.
"It’s one thing to start a brand and be talented, but that’s not necessarily the most important thing. Business management is the most important thing in a brand’s success.”