Not your Common Raven

by Roza Sinaysky | 07.03.16

Common Raven is one of those brands whose collections never get old. Take one of their garments from any year, and they will still look up to date and cool as if they just came off the runway. Common Raven’s expertise in leather and tailoring is the eye-catching detail to all fashionistas, so we met Rachel Cohen, the force behind the brand in her show-room in Jaffa to chat about her new bridal collection and about her experience working with Raf Simons at Jil Sander.

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Tell us about how you developed the name Common Raven for your brand?

The name Common Raven first came to mind when I was searching for different types of ravens and came across the common raven, which reminded me of Cohen Rachel – so I figured it was meant to be. Raven is a definition for people who are in the fashion industry (pre-social media era). These are people who are well educated about fashion, and choose to dress all in black high quality garments, in a silent and an elitist mood.

That idea, for me was a great concept to develop a brand around, appealing to a client who is confident, intelligent, with deep understanding of fashion – and has a dark soul of course.

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What is the new collection all about?

Our AW15 collection was designed as part of a project for emerging designers, and was funded by Mifal Hapayis (Israel’s state lottery). The theme for the collection was Middle Eastern gothic. I am always inspired by religion inflected garments and used that as my basic for designing the collection. I wanted to create wearable, feminine, and sexy garments fitted for Israeli winter evenings. We made beautiful light coats – leather and suede jackets – worn over slitted dresses with handmade plaits. To enhance sexiness, we added laced-up leather leggings and high heel ankle boots, the first time we have created shoes.


You launched your bridal wear line, what made you go in that direction?

I started getting request from customers to create wedding dresses from evening dresses from past collections. I understood there are not so many clean cut, minimalistic, modern wedding dresses in the Israeli market, so I figured that I could be an answer for brides who are looking for that style of dresses. Our brides turn out to be very specific ladies, very into fashion and design in general, and I’m learning a lot from working with them. It allows me to explore different shapes and high couture craftsmanship. I’m super happy I went in that direction.


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Tell us about the creative process of designing your collection, from how you start to the finished product.

First, I am waiting for the gift of sound and vision to strike. It is usually a good record that makes it happen, though it can also be movie, a person, or an artwork that allows me to follow an idea. After the first spark, I start with a silhouette, line and cut. I then choose the colors and the materials which lead to the long game of making my lines to work with the materials and colors I chose. From there the collection takes off and starts having a life of its own.

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You store is located in Jaffa, tell us about this location and how it fits your design philosophy

Yafo was on the back of my mind when I first decided that I would pursue fashion design as a career. I knew I would come back one day and start my atelier here. Yafo has a certain magic and history about it, which is like no other. It detaches you from your everyday life and gives you freedom to dream and breath inspiration. The space I am located in is perfect for me and my ideals about design. Its built in an Ottoman influenced architecture and we decorated in a very modern minimalistic style. This clash is very Common Raven.

Inspired by our surroundings in Yafo (a Middle Eastern capital in its own) we created statement earrings made from the 3 monotheistic religions joined into a chandelier.

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Do you prefer designing winter or summer collections?
I honestly can’t choose. I love designing for both equally.


Who is the typical Common Raven girl?

A typical Common Raven girl / woman is one who appreciates design, shape, and material. She is intelligent, feminine, and sexy. My favorite kind.

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Tell us about your history as a fashion designer (and about your time with Raf Simmons at Jil Sander).

I studied fashion design at Marangoni in Milan. After my graduation, I started my internship at Jil Sander. Back then, Raf Simons was head designer and his team was amazing. I was there for only a few months, but it was a great first experience to watch them work on a collection from start to finish. After I completed my internship, I left Milan for London, where I had the chance to work for (then) small fashion houses like Mary Katrantzou. London was a completely different experience then Milan. You could really feel that young designers have a place along side the older more well known brands. You can make a great first collection, and if it is interesting enough, you will get to dress rock stars and get into great boutiques. It doesn’t happen to everyone of course, but the idea that it can happen is very liberating for a young designer. In Milan the fashion industry is very established and there is a lot of respect for experience, old practices and crafts. It was great to be able to experience both approaches.


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Assistant Editor: Anna Kachur


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