David Zrihen

Photo by Johnny C.Y. Lam for Fig Tree & Vine.

A former high fashion couturier, David has designed a line of fresh, contemporary summery linens for Shabbat and Holidays, exclusively for Fig Tree & Vine. Zrihen spent 28 years as an evening wear and bridal designer in Toronto before leaving the fashion industry to retire to an 1880s Victorian house in a small village on the north shore of Lake Ontario.  He didn't really plan to retire really: He wanted to pursue a longstanding dream to create simple, beautiful linens and other textiles for the home, a dream his fashion business left him with no time to do. So last year he founded "Lake House Linens," based out of his home in Bloomfield, Ontario -- once a Quaker town that dates back to the late 1700s, and now a tourist hub of a thriving wine region known as Prince Edward County. 

My own family has vacationed in PEC for nearly 25 years. I first came across David's "Lake House" brand napkins and table linens this past winter, in one of Bloomfield's small boutiques. They were clearly of the highest quality Belgian linen, their edges masterfully stitched in bright, contrasting colors. One inventive creation in particular jumped out at me --  a basket-liner shaped like four petals. Rolls or muffins nestling in the bottom of a basket could be draped under the folds of the surrounding petals. It occurred to me that  it would make for a wonderful challah cover, if sized differently.

When I found out from the store owner that David was producing these locally -- and furthermore, that he is Jewish! -- I immediately contacted him to ask if he would be interested in making a line of Shabbat linens for Fig Tree & Vine. Not only did he agree to do so -- he was excited to do it:

"My mother always set a beautiful Shabbat table. She had her napkins and her bread covers. When she’d go to Italy she’d bring back these linen bread covers. I followed that line. Why not create something more casual -- and not so 'embroidery'?"

David, whose father was an upholsterer, says, he grew up "surrounded by fabrics. I love natural fabrics – I love linen, cottons...so different from my laces and peau de sois. "
David's love of natural fabrics and unpretentious design is apparent in the line he created for us. The result is two different sets of challah covers with matching napkins. The first is in the petal design -- which David adapted to cover any sized challah -- in 100% white or natural Belgian linen; the second is a square cover with softly fringed edges, also of generous proportions, with the pattern of a Star of David woven on the top in either matching or contrasting thread. This style is available in white and natural linen, and also in a fun "picnic" blue-and-white plaid pattern made from 100% Indian cotton. All products are handmade and hand-finished by David in his studio. They are machine washable, pre-shrunk and will not run.

"People shouldn't be scared of linen," David said. "They wash well and stains come out." He's designed his covers and napkins so they look equally good pressed, if you want a crisp appearance, or gently crumpled,  for a more natural aesthetic. 

Indeed the more you use them, the softer (and more sentimental) they will become. Certainly they are made to endure the passage of time -- and one day might well grace the tables of your grandchildren's Shabbat dinners. 
David also created an  exclusive collection of round holiday challah covers for Fig Tree & Vine.


Shop the holiday collection here.
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