Just search Chana Marelus’ online website or Instagram to be immediately whisked away to the intricate and fantasy-like modest gowns that she designs. It seems like a lofty pursuit to anyone searching for a tsanuah gown to imagine that their dress will measure up to a couture design. However, Chana Marelus managed to fuse the two worlds together. Marelus designs her gowns and conducts fittings from her Bnei Brak headquarters but she hails originally from Belgium. Her European upbringing contributed to her appreciation of couture fashion and fueled her desire to create her own unique brand.
Marelus said of the “modest-fashion” industry, “I think that every modest designer brings something special to the table. We all have our own inspirations and everyone manages to create incredibly personal collections. The modest-fashion industry is still young and in its early stages but it is growing rapidly and its evolution is extremely promising.” She sees a future in which Jewish women need not long for the couture designs that they see on Fifth Avenue, because their own designers will have just as much expertise. In fact, Marelus does not view her modest line as being limited in any way. Rather, she believes that it allows her to explore the unplumbed depths of a more refined area of design. “Some may see designing modest couture as a challenge because of the boundaries it presents, however I feel that these perceived boundaries make me more creative and allow me to design more sophisticated and intricate gowns.”
Marelus’ designs are truly one-of-kind. Her breathtaking gowns come in magical colors and are embellished with all sorts of lace, chiffon and more. Marelus explained that she is inspired both by imaginative fantasy and the natural world. “I am greatly inspired by fairies and nature. When designing I draw my inspiration from fairytales and the beauty of the world which translates into the creation of my gowns.”
When asked which design she believes encapsulates her unique brand, Marelus said, “The Willow Gown is a piece from my most recent collection which I feel encapsulates my brand and style. The gown features a detailed floral design at the top that trickles delicately down the sleeves and the skirt has soft, graceful pleats. The elegance of this gown emulates the type of style I create.”
Marelus described her artistic process as one that seems similar to that of many artists. “I begin the design process after finding inspiration from nature and the world around me. I start by drawing a rough sketch of the concept I have in mind. After that I create a pattern and draw in beading and accents until the gown is complete and I am in with love it!”
Marelus enjoyed her time working in Israel and believes that the future of modest design lives in the Jewish homeland. “Working as a fashion designer in Israel has been a wonderful experience. The design industry in Israel is becoming more advanced and creative all the time. Israeli designers are extremely successful internationally with their designs being sold all around the world in places like Singapore, Australia and Europe. It is truly inspiring to work in a country filled with immense talent!”
By Mairav Linzer