1921 was a year many will remember for different reasons, but for “Portay” this was the year Ber Portnoy was born into this world. He was the last traditionally-trained tailor in a long line of his kind within the Portnoy* family. Like those before, he, was to learn through hard work and long hours of apprenticeship the meticulous life of a thread running through fine cloth. At the young age of 12, he was sent away from his father’s mentorship to be the young trainee of the most sought after tailor in the region. Years went by, and young Ber’s hard work paid off. His reputation earned him entrance into the prestigious “Dom Modeley” in Chisinau, today the capital of Moldova (former USSR). This position was a great opportunity to express his skill, as this establishment catered to the needs of high society, and only the wealthiest customers in Eastern Europe could afford the levels of craftsmanship offered. Soon after the appointment, word got out and Ber’s skillful hands - specializing in fine men’s tailoring, outerwear and leather as well as children’s wear - were in demand. Government officials and their families insisted on his craft and his only, for the precision of fit and crisp finish of his work - represented true luxury of the times.
In 1991, at the age of 70, Ber had decided to make “Aliya” and relocated to Israel, opening a small tailor shop offering custom-made formal attire to private customers. He was known for his wild sleeve drafting, done with a piece of chalk straight onto the fabric (rare mastery among today’s pattern-makers). For the next twenty years, he would rise bright and early to start his days by the sea and finish by dusk at his tailor shop. After over 70 years of artistry, he finally retired, and passed a year later at the age of 92, leaving 2 sons and 4 grandchildren behind.*tailor in Russian
Portay is a luxury Israeli fashion brand, specializing in high-end womenswear, striving to provide a compelling solution to a modern day woman's expectations and the countless contradictions in her life. Loyal to its legacy, Portay is ever inspired by proper tailoring techniques, detailed finishes and meticulous pattern-making work, aspiring to represent the female form at its very best day and night.
The founder of Portay, Dani Veenstra (originally Portnoy) is a Russian-Israeli fashion designer based in Tel Aviv Israel. Born in Moscow, Russia in 1985 to a couple of scientists, Dani Veenstra relocated to Israel in 1994, along with her parents and older brother. Growing up in the south of Israel close by to the Mediterranean Sea and traveling frequently to Europe due to her father’s work, Dani Veenstra was exposed to multiple cultures at a young age and was constantly seeking creative outlet early on through fine arts, dance, and performance. After countless private lessons from local seamstresses and a professional course in patternmaking and design, Dani was ready for the next chapter in life. At the age of 22 she relocated to New York City to pursue her passion and find her place in the fashion industry. Dani Veenstra graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City among the top of her class in 2013 after studying and completing her BFA in Fashion Design with a sportswear specialization.
In her last year of college, Dani had the honor of working at the J.Mendel atelier, a fifth generation French Atelier and a global luxury fashion house, originally founded in St. Petersburg in the 1870s as furriers to the Russian aristocracy before opening their first flagship store in the New York in 1995.
Dani Veenstra was trained under the head pattern-maker, exploring complex techniques of high-end garment construction and had a glimpse into the demanding process of creating something truly luxurious. Her days at the Mendel House were a crucial milestone in her education, giving her valuable insight into the industry’s highest standards and how these translate into tangible objects of beauty. Despite the long hours of apprenticeship, combined with work and her school schedule, Dani became more convinced than ever that fashion was where she truly belongs, a world of aesthetics where her patience, dedication and relentless tendency to seek perfection could be put to good use. While still in college, Dani also struck an elite collaboration with one of the biggest fashion publications in the world, Harper’s BAZAAR, becoming one of a select group of Style Ambassadors, surveying NYC fashion scene events and product launches through social media, Dani was awarded several first prizes during her first months of participation in the program where she reported directly to senior fashion market editor Joanna Hillman. During Dani’s time as an ambassador she covered various launches for Hermes, Dior, Dooney & Boorke, just to name a few.
Post graduation, Vogue Italy nominated Dani for Muuse’s Top Ten Most Promising Designers. Soon after, Dani was recognized by the CFDA “for her outstanding achievement in Womenswear Design”, and awarded a member of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America). Her letter was signed by Diane Von Furstenberg, the council’s president and her future employer. Only a few months later, independent of her CFDA recognition, Dani joined the design team of Diane Von Furstenberg’s (DVF) brand new outerwear department. Needless to say, the encounters with Diane were some of the most inspiring days of her life; Diane was very blunt yet incredibly elegant and comfortable in her skin, right then and there Dani knew her days in the corporate extension were few.
They say God works in mysterious ways, and so were the events that would soon unfold in Dani’s life. Taken by surprise and coming full circle, Dani returned to Israel, empowered by her time spent in NYC and motivated by the urgency to continue her family's fashion legacy in her own way.
Portay was born as a tribute in honor of B.P, beloved father and granddad.