Two years after launching her clothing line, Mirit Weinstock's jewelry collection is now winning international acclaim. Starting in June, selected pieces will be sold at the Colette boutique in Paris, and that same month the entire collection will be displayed as part of the French capital's Design Week. In August, the jewelry line will be shown to buyers and fashion writers at Design Week in Munich.
"Over the past several years my clothing collection crystallized into an evening-wear style and when I felt the need to add new elements to it, jewelry seemed like a natural extension," says Weinstock.
She creates her eye-catching jewelry pieces, which have a spark of beauty about them, by dismantling and reassembling badminton shuttlecocks and then adding silk ribbons, delicate cloth flowers or gold and silver plating. There is also a fresh quality about the jewelry that is not present in the clothes.
While it's generally to a young designer's advantage to have a consistent language, this becomes problematic when the syntax it formulates each season remains the same. A nude-colored, knee-length silk dress, for example, looks like a variation of the designer's past creations: straight, narrow knife pleats glide down the back of the dress and are gathered in a thick cream satin ribbon tied in a bow. If in the past Weinstock created tension in the contrast between the cold geometry of the pleats and the caressing softness of the ribbon, now the familiar combination looks irritatingly lazy.
This is even more annoying in light of new, handsome designs indicative of the designer's ability to refine her language. Dresses and skirts made from gathered pieces of silk, each stretching in a different direction, inject momentum and energy into the garments. The gathers enable elasticity and freer movement, for example in a white mini-dress with a sleeve on the right side and a black shoulder strap on the other side (the organza lace fanning from its hem, however, is a superfluous addition ), and in a mini-skirt made from strips of yellow, pink, blue and green fabric.
The long sleeves of a silk satin white shirt with buttons, which can also be worn as a tunic, is designed in a surprising way: The fabric is tied into a thick knot at the elbow, creating slits and fans of cloth along both sides; a band of elastic black cloth threaded through the shirt's lapel and around the neck is fastened like a piece of jewelry.
Knife pleats fading down a black silk dress offers an excellent example of how familiar elements were simply and successfully applied in the designer's work: Instead of orderly rows of pleats, her attempt to control the pattern of the knife pleats (printed in brown on the fabric ) has left charming geometric wrinkles in the places where it wanes. A black silk dress made of four rectangles attached at their edges, and between which soft folds have been created, also offers an interesting direction.Wild elegance
If the catalogue of Weinstock's 2011 spring-summer collection seems very familiar in places, this is because she has included a number of items developed for last winter's wardrobe. What is the connection? While working on the current spring collection, she says, it became clear to her that she was actually designing two different groups of clothes - one of ready-to-wear items and the other consisting of more complex designs that require individual fitting. Starting from this season, she's decided to split the collection into two separate parts, which will be sold in selected boutiques around the country and at her studio in Jaffa.
Her point of departure, she explains, is "White Mane," the 1953 short film by French director Albert Lamorisse that centers on a relationship between a wild white colt and a fisherman's son named Folco.
"I was attracted to the color white and the texture of the horse's hair," she says, as a short clip from the black-and-white movie plays on her laptop.
Orderly rows of stiff, fine silken threads in a yellowish cream color hang from the horizontal cutting lines of a very short mini-skirt, an element inspired by the horse's mane. Long strips of cream silk satin dangling from the broad decolletage of a mini-dress - in effect constituting its bodice - provide another, less explicit element designed in the same spirit.
A long, full A-line skirt made from two airy layers of fabric - one of them pleated silk tulle and the other pleated silk organza, which also includes a short layer of pleated silk at the hips - is reminiscent of a ballet dancer's long tutu. Weinstock cites Edgar Degas' sculptures of dancers as the source of inspiration for these creations. A white corset built from silk satin knife pleats, or a black tank top ornamented with lace at the bosom, complete the athletic look of the shapely ballerinas.
Weinstock notes the elegance and nobility of the white horse on the one hand and its wildness on the other as the two poles that define her current collection. This, she says, is what inspired the use of materials like silk in various techniques - from disciplined pleating to frayed edges, some of which she has braided by hand into the shoulder straps of dresses or into decorative touches at the neckline.
Sometimes, though, the large number of elements incorporated into a single garment - for example braided satin ribbons, gathers of fabric, lace insets and cloth fringes all on the same white mini-dress - gives the impression of a lack of focus, rather than one of visual richness. The designer's inability to use them in a more measured way demonstrates another element present in the jewelry, but conspicuously absent from the clothing: precision.
"I love silk fabrics very much and I try not to put on zippers or buttons that might interfere with the natural drape of the cloth," Weinstock says.
A mini-dress adorned with a pleated triangle on its back is fastened with a fabric ribbon in the back. In this case, the sash is not for decoration alone; it is intended to conceal a piece of elastic that gathers the fabric at the waist. This is an inelegant solution and the need to conceal a certain part of a dress with a belt is likely to produce a sense of discomfort for the person wearing the item. There is no doubt that clarity of thought and a more discriminating use of the handicrafts could have yielded stronger designs.
Prices: Ready-to-wear collection, skirts and dresses - NIS 800 to NIS 1,600. Special-order collection, skirts and dresses: NIS 2,00O to NIS 6,000; shirts and corsets: NIS 1,100 to NIS 2,500. A list of shops can be found at www.miritweinstock.com.
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