Frum Chic

Israeli-born designer Marina Rahlin is a creative problem solver.  As young as five, she can remember her grandparents commenting on how well she could put together an outfit.  Her parents encouraged her  to always do what she  loved  and made her feel that no matter what, if she worked hard enough on it, it would turn into an amazing career.
“I started taking fashion sketching and sewing classes while I was serving in the Israeli military.  This really opened my creative horizons and showed me what I could do with fashion,” she said.  “A month after my military service ended I moved to Los Angeles to go to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) and graduated in 2009 from the Fashion Design program.
Rahlin added, “While I am Jewish, I’m not observant, so when I met my fiancé, I heard from his family and friends how challenging shopping is for observant girls and how hard it is to combine style with modesty.”
Hearing this, Rahlin decided to start researching what colors, prints and rules needed to be abided by.  Personal observations had her noticing that most girls were buying “shells” (basically under shirts) and wearing them under beautiful cocktail dresses that they had purchased in department stores and boutiques.
“That did not look right to me,” said Rahlin.  “I also heard that girls were dying the shells to match their dresses.  I thought to myself that there has to be another way, an easier way for modest women in the community to dress.  These women want to  follow trends and want to look as stylish as the famous fashionistas in all the top magazines,  but still remain modest and true to themselves and their religion.”
The answer to her dilemma came with “one piece” designs, dresses that would cover the collar bone, elbows and knees.  Choosing fabrics that are light, stretchy, breathable and comfortable, Rahlin decided on using mostly silks, jerseys, cottons and linens.  Many are washable, and all are easy care.   “What I’m offering makes modest shopping quick, cost effective and chic.  Just slip it on, look beautiful and go!” offered Rahlin.
Going to FIDM helped Rahlin understand both the financial and the style sides of creating her clothing business.  There was a lot to learn about what was and wasn’t possible to do, with the styling, the sewing and the marketing.  One of the most important was showing her that there were many, many designers out there, that she needed to find a niche that made her stand out and that this was a wonderful one!  She was offering something that was different and necessary, and it definitely helped solved a huge dilemma for many women.  Not just those in the U.S., but worldwide.
Now that her first showing has been out and well received, Rahlin says the response has been very positive and has given her ideas for designs that will have crazier prints and bolder colors.  Because of warm temperatures and the amount of material needed for the modest styling, another thing she’ll look into are “stretchier” fabric choices that will cling less to the more modest parts of the body.
“I’m going to keep going and improving and listening to my clients!” she added.
While many clothing businesses decide to use professional models on their websites and advertising venues, this new designer decided to model all her dresses.  And although she loves the way her hard work has shaped up in all the various styles, Rahlin says her favorite dress is the “blue marine” with the big flower on the neckline.
Most of the dresses cost between $150 and $250.  There are two skirts in the line which go for $80.  Her plans are to go nationwide and have her styles in most major cities across the U.S.
“I’m definitely working on having them available in traditional store fronts as well,” she said.  “Hopefully that won’t be too far into the future.”
The dresses are already quite popular in Israel, New York and the Miami area.  Rahlin is very pleased with the sales that have been coming in from both Los Angeles and Orange Counties as well.
The idea for the name of her business came out of love for a family member that Rahlin was extremely close to.  As she explained, “I called the line MaRa, after my loving and always refined Babuska who passed away not too long ago.  I know having her name with me and looking out for me will bring me lots of good luck!”  In addition, “Ma Ra” is a play on words.  It is a common Israeli expression; it’s a rhetorical comment meaning “nothing is wrong.”
It seems with an upcoming marriage and a new clothing line doing well, Marina Rahlin’s grandma is truly looking after this very creative and thoughtful young woman and seeing to it that everything is right.
Currently, all selections may be purchased only on line at Rahlin’s website: www.modestmara.com.

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