Pnina Tornai

Pnina Tornai

Pnina Tornai is a fashion designer from Israel, specializing in wedding gowns. She was born in 1962 to Ruth Tornai and Shai Tornai. Apart from Pnina, her parents have three daughters. At the time of her birth, she was named Perla. However, according to Hebrew language her name transformed to Pnina.

Since childhood, she dreamt of becoming an actress but that was just a temporary wish. She gave up that thought and started her high school studies. After this, she provided her services to the military as females and males on turning eighteen in Israel were required to join the army. Once the military stint ended for her, she decided to revive the dream of becoming an actress. Hence, she enrolled in an acting institute in Paris.

In 1984, she married David Charles Meshulam and gave birth to a son who became religious as he grew up and spends time studying the Torah. Meshulam urged Pnina to stop learning acting even though this was what she really wanted. Later on, she divorced him and married someone else, from whom also she separated. She then married David Levinshtein. Levinshtein completed MBA from University of California, Los Angeles.

After living in Paris for a short while, she returned to her home country with her child in order to earn money. When she was in her thirties, she launched a small tailoring shop in Tel Aviv, with just a single seamstress for assistance since Pnina herself wasn’t trained for sewing. With the help of her employee, she began designing and creating gowns for daily wear. She catered her clientele but was not famous.

Soon her career experienced a breakthrough. In 1992, a woman asked Pnina to create a wedding dress inspired by an evening gown the woman saw through a store window. Pnina made the dress in such a perfect manner that it hit the front page of an Israeli newspaper. With this news, other brides-to-be asked her to replicate the gown. Pnina’s store was then turned in a wedding clothes boutique.

In 2005, she showcased her creations to Kleinfeld, but they rejected the dresses since Pnina used lace on them. By this refusal, she didn’t lose hope or get disappointed. She redesigned all the dresses to match Kleinfeld‘s style and returned to the company and fortunately one of her gowns attracted Kleinfeld and she attained a position of a designer at the label. After designing for two years, the label offered her an in-store space for her exclusive designs because she became the store’s best vendor. This privilege has been received by no other designer.

Pnina Tornai is involved in every step of the dress-making even when she was not trained for this. She spends half of each month in New York, dealing with clients and getting their desired dresses completed. Along with her sister, Kochav who was a makeup artist, she held trunk shows. Pnina also gives time to other stores located in Athens.

Pnina originally wanted to be an actress and this childhood muse turned into a reality when she appeared in an Israeli sitcom. She played a wife’s role in Polishuk. In addition to this, she hosted Ten Years Younger, a ten day show which was shot in Israel.

Pnina makes customized and special dresses for Indian, Muslim and Jewish brides. Among some well known names, her creations have been worn by Ashanti and by Kurt Busch‘s (NASCAR driver) wife Eva Bryan.


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