Fern Penn has fashion running through her blood. After a career in buying and merchandising, in 2003 she opened her own boutique — Rosebud, a concept store in Soho filled with women’s designer clothing, accessories, home furnishings and art. It was the first store in the United States selling only Israeli designed and manufactured fashion.
The fashion out of Israel “caters to real women,” not just those who are tall, young and thin, Penn told The Jewish Week. The pieces are trendy, yet comfortable, and, she said, much more wearable than what you find in cities such as Paris or Milan.
But after a 15-year run, first on Thompson Street, then on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, Rosebud will be closing its doors at the end of the month due to increasing rent prices. Penn doesn’t plan on ending her relationship with Israeli fashion, though. “Retail has changed over the last 15 years; people are shopping differently,” explained Penn, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. “It is time to just reboot this whole thing and come up with a different angle.”
“Instead of bringing Israeli fashion to the States, I will bring New Yorkers to Israel.”
That reboot is Rosebud Fashion Tour, a week-long trip to Israel where participants will meet with Israeli designers, learn about Israeli fashion and delve into the lifestyle of the country. Since beginning Rosebud in 2003, the self-proclaimed “Zionista-fashionista” has traveled to Israel several times each year and worked with more than 200 Israeli designers.
The first trip is set to hit the road on November 5, and will focus on Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Jerusalem. “Instead of bringing Israeli fashion to the States, I will bring New Yorkers to Israel,” Penn quipped. And in order to make it an intimate experience for everyone, she plans on keeping each trip to about 12 people.
While Penn is focused on closing the Rosebud store, and preparing for her first Fashion Tour, she shared her dream of one day expanding the Rosebud Fashion Tour beyond the tristate area, showing women across the world all the fashion and design Israel has to offer.