Tuesday, December 4, 2012

       It’s quite interesting how I met Carolina, the founder and designer of Lev Collection. It was three years ago. I was with my friend in a Manhattan pizza store. We noticed a young Sephardic-looking woman eating her lunch nearby. She met a few acquaintances there and her demeanor appeared to be sweet and relaxed. I was considering approaching her and introducing myself. You see, I was on a quest to find an appropriate Shidduch for a specific family member of mine. I wanted to speak to her but my “What the heck? You never know” attitude was restrained by shyness. I finally mustered the courage to introduce myself and we exchanged each others’ contact information. Although the potential Shidduch I conceived did not blossom to fruition, I’m still quite grateful that I met Carolina on that blistering June day (she’s married now by the way!).  
      Around a year ago, Carolina began to post photos of dazzling evening and cocktail dresses on Facebook. I quickly discovered that she designed those dresses. Impressive! Carolina’s Lev Collection can be viewed and purchased on Lev Collection offers evening wear for Simchot and formal wear for Shabbat and the Holidays. The clothing is perfectly modest, so you can say adieu to purchasing extra fabric and “fixing it.” Who needs that hassle, right? In addition, the elegant simplicity of Lev Collection’s dresses is truly covetable. Sequins! Feminine silhouettes! Lace detailing! This is the modest yet fashionable woman’s dream. Let’s get to know Lev Collection’s founder and designer a bit better!

1) Hello Carolina, we’re glad you can interview for Wear Your Invisible Crown. We’d like to know what inspired you to pursue a career in fashion design? Do you believe that your Italian upbringing was what originally introduced you to personal style and fashion?
         Somehow I always knew that I wanted to become a Fashion Designer, and the fact that I was born and raised in Milan certainly helped me receive the best Fashion education I could ever hope for. I actually never thought I would launch my own clothing line until about five years ago when I started learning more about Judaism and becoming closer to it. 
      The hardest step for me was to start dressing more modestly, I knew it was right to do but it was just so difficult. I started very slowly. When the wedding season started I was desperate! I could not find one dress I liked and I spend countless hours trying to find one. I couldn’t find a dress that didn’t require too much alteration. I didn’t want the final result of my dress to look forced and strange.
      In my community, most of the people are very traditional but for some reason almost everybody looks down to dressing modestly, and I really wanted to change that misconceived notion in people’s minds. I also wanted to start dressing modestly at parties but I didn't want to stand out and be looked down upon. I really wanted to show people that you can dress modestly and look beautiful! And most of all, I wanted to give hope to young girls, who like me, wish to dress more modestly but cannot find anything suitable in stores.
I wanted to create a modest clothing line that anybody would love to wear regardless!
And that's what really inspired me to do my very best and start my own clothing line.

2) What were the educational and professional steps that you had to take in order to get where you are today?
        Growing up I was never a fan of academia, but I always had the best grades in subjects that required some kind of artistic skill. I remember enjoying those classes so much. I never wanted those class hours to end. By the end of Middle School, I realized that I wanted to go to Fashion School. I had so many ideas in my mind and I wanted to obtain the skills on how to translate my ideas into actual garments. I was certainly lucky to live in the right place for that!
       There are so many prestigious Fashion Schools in Milan, and thanks to a friend’s help I found one of the best Fashion Schools I could ever dream of, but it wasn't so simple... It took me several years to convince my parents to allow me to go to Fashion School.  They were so afraid I would be negatively influenced there. Yet, it was my dream and I didn't give up so easily!
       After going on a mini "strike" my parents had to finally give in and come look at the school with me.  Three years later, I graduated with the best grade and my parents were so proud and surprised to see what I was able to accomplish. Yet, when I graduated I realized that there weren't too many jobs available in Milan.
      Actually, in my field there was a huge offer and very little demand, but after a while I found a temporary job. Soon after that, I became an assistant in Show Rooms like Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Fendi and many other high-end Italian brands. I would also assist in their Fashion Shows.
      After a while, my parents realized the situation in Italy wasn’t great, especially for us "kids.” The Jewish community was shrinking and all the young people were moving elsewhere for studies and better job opportunities. We already had some relatives in New York and my parents decided we should give it a try for three months and see how it goes.
       It's funny how few days before the end of our "trial" here in New York; I was finally able to find a job as an Assistant Designer for a terrific company. I worked there for over four years. It was a very interesting experience and it gave me the opportunity to learn so much about this field. For the first time I felt like I was getting a step closer to my dream job. I really loved working there and when I decided to launch my own little “Lev Collection” line it was hard for me to leave…I was so scared to leave something I liked and was comfortable with for something that might not work out.
      In the beginning, I kept my job and spend every spare second I had to look for the best fabric resources, pattern makers, cutters and sewers. It really wasn't an easy process. I had to deal with a lot of wrong people until I was able to create the perfect team for this project!
     At one point it just got all too overwhelming for me… I could not juggle it all anymore, I had to decide between a safe job I really liked and my big dream that seemed risky. I chose to jump and take a chance. I told myself: “At least if it doesn’t work I can always say that I really tried my best, but if I don’t even try I will never know if I could have made it or not! “ If you really believe in something you should try your best to achieve it, and if you fail it wasn't meant to be. But if you never even try, then I think that's the real failure. I'm very fortunate in that I always knew what I loved to do and it just took some courage, perseverance and really G-d's (and some angels on earth) help to make it all happen.
      Now, after little over one year I officially launched Lev Collection. I'm so happy to see how my passion and love for what I do can really make life a little easier and even more enjoyable for so many people. I know some of you might think they are just dresses, but who doesn't love and deserve to look and feel beautiful?!
3) What is your favorite trend this season and how did you incorporate that trend into your collection?
       Trends are great. I always get my biggest inspirations from new materials and textures. Lace has always been one of my favorite materials to work with. I find it so elegant and feminine and it really works for almost any age. It's been in style for a while now, but I just can't get over it. I try my best to create trendy yet timeless pieces. Another festive trend this season is sequins. They’re just so much fun! And you can find many of those in our collection this year!
4) Lev Collection features intricately textured and very elegant clothing for formal events, Simchot, Shabbat, and Chagim. Do you plan on designing a line of casual wear?
       It’s interesting that you asked me that. I started designing evening wear because I felt this is what we’re currently lacking in the market, but I would also love to create a more casual line in the future!
5) What do you believe is the key to blending the best of two worlds: Modest dressing and self-expression through style and fashion?
       Confidence is always the most important element; you must feel good in your own skin and enjoy what you are wearing. I think that's the key, no matter how tall, petite, skinny or curvy you are. You are unique and special and you should always feel that way. As the name of your blog very nicely states: You should always remember to “wear your invisible crown,” that's definitely the most important accessory in your closet!
     The attention to detail and commitment to excellence that come across in Carolina’s answers are definitely reflected in her evening collection. Her passion to create beauty and ameliorate the difficulty of finding fashionable yet tasteful frocks is truly inspiring. We wish her much continued success in all her endeavors. Thanks for your time Carolina!
Don't forget to like LEV COLLECTION on Facebook!


  1. Firstly, kudos in taking the initiative. I am super chicken.

    Secondly, her collection is amazing. Gotta trust anyone from Milan . . .

  2. Lol! Thanks. My friend actually dragged me by the elbow and made me talk to her! Otherwise, I would've chickened out as well. And yes, the collection is beautiful. I definitely agree with your Milan statement!