Opinion

Miri Regev's Cannes Dress: Tasteless, Aggressive, and Colonialist

With a dress featuring the Old City walls, Dome of the Rock and Tower of David, it’s hard to believe it is not a Photoshop spoof

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev at the Cannes Film Festival, May 17, 2017.
Eli Sabati/Facebook

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev arrived at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday wearing a tasteless dress designed by Aviad Arik Herman (graphics by Boris Sultonov). It comprised a white brocade skirt, laced with gold thread, with a rendering of the Jerusalem landscape featuring the Old City walls, the Dome of the Rock and the Tower of David. Even after you rubbed your eyes, you still couldn’t believe it was real and not a Photoshop spoof.

The upper part of the dress was sewn from gilded mesh, trimmed with gems, crystals and hammered metal strips – a very literal interpretation of the lyrics to the song “Jerusalem of Gold,” written in 1967.

Regev was a guest of the Israeli Pavilion at the festival, which is celebrating its 70th year. Yet it was at this film event that she chose to mark another anniversary: the uniting of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War 50 years ago, when the eastern side of the city was occupied and annexed by Israel, and is now a bone of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Her efforts to convey a political message on the backs of the attending artists, whom she abuses at every opportunity (such as the fiasco at the 2016 Ophir Awards ceremony, when she left the hall because of a recital of a poem by Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish), was an aggressive, cynical and opportunistic act. It was yet another scene from the colonialist horror movie in which Regev stars and for which we are all cast, against our will, as the audience.

Dror Contanto, who designed the black lace dress Regev wore to last year’s opening ceremony, told Xnet this week that he had refused her request to design such a dress. The designer who agreed to turn Regev’s fantasy into reality was Herman, a Sweden-based Israeli designer who is almost unknown in the local fashion industry. Herman said he had worked on the dress for a long time, with his mother’s help.

Most of Herman’s work is in costume design for international beauty pageants. Accordingly, the theatrical, catastrophic dress Regev and Herman created looks like a coarse costume for the princess character in a nightmarish musical about the occupation.